Managing the Energy-Efficient Data Center: A Special Report for CIOs

Rows of flashing slot machines buzz throughout Viejas Enterprises' tribal casino. An outdoor arena erupts with light and sound as entertainers such as country singer Randy Travis and comedian Bill Cosby take the stage. Energy emanates freely from the epicenter of this Indian reservation 30 miles east of San Diego -- that is, except inside its data center.

Editor's Note
To view our complete multimedia package, visit our Green IT and the data center special report.

Two years ago CIO Moti Vyas' IT staff was plugging new servers into the nearest outlet inside a cramped server room, only to receive calls from the facilities department. You're drawing too much power from the circuit, they said. More power would also be needed to cool the new servers, yet the server room was nearing its power threshold. All this because Viejas Enterprises was trying to keep up with Californians' growing appetite for gambling and entertainment.

So Vyas added another server room to gain a little more power and space -- a temporary fix as he planned a grander solution. Viejas Enterprises eventually made a multimillion-dollar investment to build an energy-efficient data center. "There were business drivers and technology drivers," Vyas says. "Business drivers were to support today's business and plan for tomorrow's needs. The technology drivers were power, cooling due to blade servers and virtualization, security and future-proofing."

Like many CIOs, Vyas had hit a wall when faced with the need to scale up his server room, largely because of energy concerns. Last year U.S. data centers consumed more than 60 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity at a cost of about $4.5 billion, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A good chunk of this power -- up to 60% in some cases -- is needed to cool servers. Data centers accounted for almost 2% of this country's total energy consumption, not to mention massive harmful carbon emissions.

This was first published in November 2007

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