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RFID Energy-Management Systems for Data Centers

Wireless solutions monitor these facilities in real time to keep them cool, while reducing power consumption and costs.
By Bob Violino
Feb 01, 2012—Data centers—facilities that typically house servers, routers and storage systems—are energy hogs. The equipment not only is sensitive to heat but also generates large amounts of heat, so cooling is essential. But all too often, data centers are cooled excessively, to ensure the best environment for the equipment contained within them.

That makes data centers among the biggest energy consumers within enterprises. And the use of energy in these facilities continues to climb, despite the fact that many organizations have consolidated servers, thanks to technologies such as virtualization. According to a report released in September 2011 by DatacenterDynamics, a London-based research firm, data centers worldwide were expected to consume 19 percent more energy in the next 12 months than they had in the past year.

Illustration: John Hull | iStockphoto

The greatest increase in power demand is in markets with the highest projected data center facility growth over the next 12 months, the report says. That means bigger increases in energy use are expected in major U.S. and European markets than anywhere else. A significant number of the organizations queried think increased energy costs will have an impact on their data center operations during the next 12 months.

Many organizations are motivated by a desire to cut costs, and better energy management is one place to focus, says Russell Klein, VP and group director, IT infrastructure, at research firm Aberdeen Group, in Boston. "Whether the servers and storage devices are on-premise or hosted, the organization is paying for the infrastructure, so everyone is concerned about managing the cost of the data center," he says.

Most companies monitor data-center environments with large, wired environmental systems, which tend to be costly, complex, and time-consuming to install and reconfigure. Now, wireless monitoring systems that use radio frequency identification and sensor technologies can gather environmental information in real time, to help companies better manage energy consumption.
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