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Data center power consumption: Tips and options for assessment

I am trying to do a power profile on my data center. I know that the nameplate or vendor specification sheets inflate actual power values. Short of doing meter testing on all the servers in the room (over 1000), do you know of an alternative method to assess my data center's power consumption?

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With the growing focus on "Green initiatives and awareness", assessing your current electrical power usage is a timely topic. Keep in mind when looking at your data center to include servers as well as printers, storage (disk, tape), network switches, routers, security appliances, air conditioners and other equipment. Look in your equipment documentation for actual power consumption in watts at a particular voltage and amperage, as well as BTU/hr data.

Another option is to go to your vendors' websites and look up the information that they have available on power consumption per piece of equipment in your configuration. Also check with your vendor to see what they have in the way of power assessment and asset management tools or power calculators that might be of use. Depending on the size and scope you may be able to coax your solution provider into doing some assessment work as part of a server, network or storage upgrade.

Another source of power consumption information is UPS and power management vendors such as APC and Eaton -- among others -- that have power calculators for different equipment. While time consuming, look in your site preparation and installation guides for your servers or IT equipment to see what the wattage and AC voltage requirements are, along with BTU/hr for your different components. Unless you have an asset and facilities management tool to enter in your power values for different pieces of equipment, create a spreadsheet to track the power information for your servers and other IT equipment.

This was first published in April 2007

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