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Why monitoring power consumption is essential to manage data centre environments

Wed 28 Feb 2018 | Anthony Clarkson

Data centre power

Anthony Clarkson, technologist at ProLabs, discusses why data centre operators need to prepare their power saving strategy for the future 

Data centres are a key part of our world and we rely heavily on them for a range of services, but growing bandwidth demands are affecting their efficiency and performance.

Whilst it may not be possible to reduce the amount of data that runs through data centres daily, it is possible to improve other conditions by utilising technologies that can provide a more efficient and reliable source for management – and the best place to start is by expanding on existing power-saving technologies.

dc-sectorAs it stands, power consumption is a growing issue that never leaves the spotlight, and data centres in particular use large amounts of power. For example, on a short-range optic, typical power consumption on transceivers go from 1W to greater than 3.5W maximum power consumption. While the efficiency per Gbps is impressive, the data centre manager is in a constant battle as they experience a greater than three times increase per link in power consumption.

The greater heat dissipation that this power consumption directly correlates with requires an increase in the cooling of the room to maintain a reasonable operating temperature and sizing backup power.

There are a host of different cooling systems… choosing the right one for each data centre is essential

Previously, attempts to reduce power consumption have been identified as virtualising servers and storage or just turning off idle networks, but these solutions cannot cope with the ever-growing bandwidth demands. Instead, the issue should be tackled head-on by utilising improved power-saving technology to reduce power consumption.

Many companies are looking at new strands of technology that can advance and improve the way data centres handle the growing stream of information that now flows through them, and industry leaders are considering various cooling methods. Most notably, Microsoft recently experimenting with locating data centres under water to aid with the cooling.


Using a natural cooling system across data centres is becoming increasingly popular in order to reduce costs which are incurred in other sectors of data centres. Instead of paying out for cooling systems which is just an added cost in terms of both power and energy usage, using the outside air temperature utilises an already natural factor to allow for reduced energy consumption.

With data rates increasing beyond 10G to 100G, operators need to be extra vigilant

There are a host of different cooling systems that have been developed and choosing the right one for each data centre is essential. Whilst many data centres are focused on the reduction of their energy consumption, it is also important that the right system is in operation as it makes it wholly more beneficial to the sustainability and continued development of the centre.

However, it is possible to look at how to reduce power consumption per port by making efficiencies within the optical transceivers themselves. 100G hybrid solutions offer a free-space optical interconnect technology which utilises a silicon-based 45° micro-reflector to align the laser to the fibre medium, eliminating the need for the optical lens.

This then reduces the optical path to less than 200 µm, leading to a 60% reduction in the optical power and resulting in less heat dissipation, and ultimately greater than 30% reduction in power consumption.

With data rates increasing beyond 10G to 100G, operators need to be extra vigilant. Managing and monitoring how data centres can improve their power consumption will give a more detailed and incisive reflection into how we can continue to improve the way the power saving and energy consumption can move forward. The demand for more bandwidth is only set to grow, so it’s ever-more important for operators to prepare now.

DCWCome and meet the ProLabs team on stand D1333 at Data Centre World, 21-22 March, ExCel London. Register for your free ticket today. 

Experts featured:

Anthony Clarkson



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