A Guide to Data Center Power Design and Infrastructure

TRG datacentre
TRG datacentre

Few things are as important to the running of data centers as power. Without power, no data center could support its customers’ systems, and businesses would quickly grind to a halt. So power should of course be a key consideration when planning and organizing your systems. Of course, getting to grips with what you need to know about power design and infrastructure is no mean feat, particularly if you’re looking at more complex setups. But we’re here to help you through the process, and our experts are always on hand to answer any questions you might have.

Whether you’re thinking about moving data centers, or you’d simply like to learn more about how data center power design and infrastructure works, take a look at our brief guide to the subject. Here’s everything you need to know, in a nutshell!

Data center power: What is the typical infrastructure set-up?

In the vast majority of cases, data centers will use the municipal electric grid as the main source of their power. The electric grid will be responsible for supplying energy, which can then be transformed on-site to ensure that it is of the optimal voltage and current for the data center’s requirements.

Some data centers look to other energy sources in addition to, or instead of, the electric grid. Data centers typically have their own generators, which can be used in case of an emergency. Sometimes these generators will also supplement the power supply in the data center.

Power is not delivered ready to use. It must then be taken to Main Distribution Boards, before being transported to a series of different endpoints, including Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) systems and load banks. This practice helps to avoid damaging complex systems through unexpected power surges and ensures that servers get the right amount of power for their requirements.

There’s an element of security involved in this process, too. UPS systems can ensure that power continues to flow even if an outage or another problem is causing an interruption in the power supply. This means that short interruptions in power won’t affect the systems reliant on the data center’s power supply, and businesses won’t feel an impact from these. UPS systems tend to provide a temporary solution, which gives the data center enough time to switch to its backup generator power and keep dependent systems running.

Data center power and energy requirements

In order to keep a continuous power supply with minimal interruptions, data centers require a significant amount of energy. It’s not just the IT equipment that needs power in data centers, either. Facilities must also be kept at the optimal temperature for the systems housed within them, and other equipment such as humidifiers and monitors are all essential to the daily running of data centers.

The exact energy consumption of a data center depends on variables – the square footage of the facility, the power supply for each server, the facility voltage (usually 120 V or 240 V), the number of server racks and the number of servers per rack. Once this is determined, it’s easier to figure out if a facility is running as efficiently as it could be.

Power Usage Effectiveness

Data centers are coming under increasing pressure to ensure that they are as energy efficient as possible, particularly as their energy requirements are expected to increase considerably in the near future. Currently, this is being measured through a metric known as Power Usage Efficiency (PUE).

PUE is calculated to explain how effective a data center is, based on the energy it consumes and how much of that energy is dedicated to its servers. A disproportionate amount of energy being used by equipment other than servers brings a data center’s score down, while a dedication to servers only ensures a higher score. A recent survey from the Uptime Institute found that on average, data centers have a score of 1.58. However, this score has been declining over time.

Consolidation efforts

From 2010, data center energy usage grew by far less than it had in the previous decade. The reasons? Increased hardware efficiency, better management and consolidation effort. Even though data center workloads have increased, energy consumption has increased relatively slowly in comparison due to advances in efficient technology and the adoption of more effective data center management strategies. Businesses are looking for ways to consolidate their infrastructure and reduce consumption by abandoning private data centers and moving away from the power-hungry legacy hardware within them in favor of colocation services.

The design and infrastructure of data center power is a complex topic, but it’s one that all businesses should consider before choosing their center. So, before you dive into the details of a new data center, ask about its power supply, security processes, and backup facilities to make sure it can offer all the power you need to run your business.

If you’re interested in hearing more about how our power supply and infrastructure works, don’t hesitate to contact our team.

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