Data centers, the nucleus of any organization, can sometimes account for about half of annual energy costs. As the demand for increased computing capacity continues to grow and with more connected devices than ever before, optimal use of data center resources, including power and space, becomes even more important. Here are five ways to improve data center efficiency:

1. Monitor Actual Power Consumption

It’s important to have an accurate assessment of how much power is being used — where, when, and by which equipment. A system that provides real-time collection of data on current, voltage, power, and energy consumption can help you identify equipment that is working inefficiently, such as “zombie servers” that need to be decommissioned or virtualized. And by metering at the inlet, outlet, or PDU branch circuit levels, you can avoid poor server utilization and better match server capacity to actual load.

2. Manage Environmental Variables

Besides the IT equipment itself, the biggest energy costs for data centers come from cooling and air circulation. The existence of cold or hot spots adds to operating costs.  Environmental sensors that monitor temperature, humidity, airflow, and air pressure will enable you to make adjustments that lead to savings. For example, even a small increase in ambient temperature — which most newer IT equipment can tolerate — will lower the energy bill. Managing environmental variables is a key factor in data center efficiency.

3. Protect the Infrastructure

Security is another important concern for data centers. Assets must be protected from physical hazards, such as smoke, water, or vibration from earthquakes. Network security must also be considered to stay in compliance with regulatory guidelines and to prevent costly data breaches. An efficient system will include sensors to warn of physical threats, and security protocols to control both physical access (door locks, webcams that activate when doors are opened) and unauthorized network access (encryption, password protection).

4. Utilize Remote Management

Another way to improve data center efficiency is to enable staff productivity. Remote management tools allow staff to perform various tasks without physically entering the data center. They can provision outlets for new equipment, reboot servers or boot up devices in a particular sequence, access data from power and environmental sensors, and receive alerts about potential issues, such as a circuit breaker that is close to being tripped. Remote management capabilities improve productivity and help reduce data center downtime.

5. Track Assets Accurately

Keeping track of assets manually is an error-prone and inefficient use of time and money, particularly if your business is expanding rapidly. Automation and integration with data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software will provide you with an accurate accounting of all equipment and will map the physical relationships between devices to show you how the infrastructure is connected. With reliable information, you can make decisions that will maximize data center efficiency — such as whether new hardware or upgrades are necessary or determining the optimal place to install a new server.

One solution that can help with all of these areas of concern is the use of intelligent rack power distribution units (PDUs), such as the Raritan® PX series. These strips with multiple outlets for distributing power to IT equipment also offer many advanced features. Major companies such as Cisco, eBay, Sony, and Verizon have discovered the benefits of intelligent PDUs. Learn more about the different types of intelligent PDUs and the ways they can improve data center efficiency.