The 2007 US EPA report to Congress (US EPA, 2007) on the state of energy consumption in data centers brought to light the true energy inefficiencies built into today’s data centers. Marquez et al. (2008) conducted an initial analysis on the productivity of a Pacific Northwest National Lab computer using The Green Grid’s Data Center Energy Productivity metric (The Green Grid, 2008). Their study highlights how the Top500 ranking of computers disguises the serious energy inefficiency of today’s High Performance Computing data centers. In the rapidly expanding Cloud Computing space, the race will be won by the providers that deliver the lowest cost of computing — such cost is heavily influenced by the operational costs incurred by data centers. As a means to address the urgent need to lower the cost of computing, solution providers have been intensely focusing on real-time monitoring, visualization, and control/management of data centers. The monitoring aspect involves the widespread use of networks of sensors that are used to monitor key data center environmental variables such as temperature, relative humidity, air flow rate, pressure, and energy consumption. Such data is then used to visualize and analyze data center problem areas (e.g., hotspots), which is then followed by control/management actions designed to alleviate such problem areas. The authors have been researching the operational benefits of a network of sensors tied in to a software package that uses the data to visualize, analyze, and control/manage the data center cooling system and IT Equipment for maximum operational efficiency. The research is being conducted in a corporate production data center that is networked in to the authors’ company’s global network of data centers. Results will be presented that highlight the operational benefits that are realizable through real-time monitoring and visualization.

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