You might have heard about power usage effectiveness (PUE) in the past when discussing cloud services for your organization. While cloud services can offer a wide variety of benefits, making the most of those benefits brings a host of challenges with it. Power usage effectiveness is one of those challenges.
The simple fact of the matter is that cloud services rely on data centers, large centralized groups of servers that contain all of the information for an organization, or many organizations in the case of cloud service providers.
Running all those servers takes power, and that power can be used efficiently or inefficiently. PUE is a measure of how effectively a data center is using power.
How the Issue of PUE Arises
You might think that doing away with data centers is the solution to the problem of excessive power use. However, that doesn’t really solve the problem. If anything, the resources used in data centers would use more power if they were distributed because individual pieces of equipment wouldn’t be operating at their full capacity.
The main problem with having so much equipment together is that it all generates heat.
Your individual computer can manage its own heat quite well with an internal heat sink and fan. However, with hundreds of devices in a single room, the room itself starts to heat up. Now there’s a significant environmental control problem to be solved, and one whose solution will require additional power use.
Data centers rely on dedicated HVAC equipment to keep their systems cool. This cooling can be realized in a variety of different ways, but it essentially boils down to air conditioning for the servers. Air conditioning uses up plenty of power, reducing PUE.
Why Not Keep Everything On-Site?
Having each company handle its own IT equipment instead of relying on cloud services isn’t a viable solution to the problem. For one thing, many organizations simply aren’t equipped to handle their own servers and other equipment. They also might not have a power supply with the level of reliability that their services require.
Data centers also offer higher-speed connections to their centralized servers, as opposed to the connection that any individual business would have internally. This connectivity makes access to cloud services reliable from anywhere; while hosting services locally could cause many issues that companies might not anticipate.
There’s also the fact that data centers can provide a wide range of cloud services that work better when their separate components are maintained in the same facility. Companies with multiple sites might not realize how inefficiently their equipment could be working if their processes rely on long-distance connections.
Security is another major reason why data centers are superior despite their PUE challenges. A data center can provide much more effective physical and digital security measures compared to equipment kept on-site at an organization.
Because data centers host so much equipment, the security expenditure per site can be higher and consequently more effective.
Dealing with PUE
Datacenter power consumption can be incredibly high, often in the range of megawatts or more for large facilities. Significant design work goes into optimizing PUE to keep power consumption as low as possible. This approach is both better for the environment and more cost-effective for organizations and cloud service providers alike.
There are many different methods that are used to achieve improved PUE.
One is simply allowing server rooms to operate at higher temperatures. The room doesn’t need to be comfortable; it just has to be an appropriate temperature to keep the servers running. At a higher temperature, heat transfer is more efficient, and whatever HVAC means are in place will be more effective.
Data centers could mitigate PUE by spreading out equipment to allow for airflow and less heat generation per unit volume. However, one of the primary goals of data centers is to use as little space as possible.
This drive means there’s a constant trade-off between PUE and space use, with significant pressure to use even less space than before.
Finally, data centers can try to optimize their HVAC systems. There are many innovative options that might require more significant capital expenditure but can improve PUE in the long run.
Overall, the trade-off for PUE generally boils down to the balance between mitigation costs and energy costs. There’s a point at which more expensive equipment won’t be worth it, and that’s the optimal point that data centers try to reach.
Private Cloud Solutions
Cloud services can provide a wide range of benefits for your organization, but you need a professional team to help navigate the unique challenges of implementing cloud solutions.
Awnix provides architecture, support, and security for private cloud solutions for organizations at any scale. Reach out to our team today to find out what we can do for you.