Data center power & cooling strategies that drive Godfrey Phillips

The story of how Godfrey Phillips upgraded its data center power and cooling setup to reduce power consumption, as well as a future investment.

It was time to discard old setups and bring in the new for Godfrey Phillips India, when it decided to revamp its data center power and cooling with a long-term vision in mind. Godfrey Phillips operates in the consumer industry, manufacturing tobacco, cigarettes and tea. The company was incorporated in 1936, and is headquartered in New Delhi. It has manufacturing facilities in Delhi and Mumbai.

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In 2009, Godfrey Phillips decided to upgrade its data center. At this point of time, it was decided that the data center power and cooling setup also needed a change. "It was time for us to change the earlier AC setup, because that was very old. The upgradation of the data center struck us as the right opportunity to do so. We convinced the management that it would be better to spend a little more money, as it would also give us reliability," says S R Balasubramanian, the company's executive vice president for IT & corporate development. Another reason was to avoid using the extra power used to cool the data center. The air-conditioning load was 10 kW and since it was being run 24/7, which became a challenge on the data center power front, especially in the summers of Delhi. Also, there was the major challenge of maintaining the right temperature with the older ACs.

At present, Godfrey Phillips procures data center power from the Delhi State Electricity Board. Apart from that there are backup generators. These generators are handled by the administration department. The company uses Kirloskar generators with N+1 redundancy.

When it came to cooling the data center, Godfrey Phillips went in for precision cooling from Tata Liebert. As Balasubramanian explains: "It helped in avoiding the use of extra power to cool the data center." Before putting precision cooling in place, the data center had a general cooling setup. In precision cooling, the cool air is directly supplied from below the racks, thus eliminating the need to cool the external environment.

Keeping data center power savings in mind, the organization also decided to go in for blade servers from HP, because the overall power consumption of blade servers is much lower compared to rack ones. There are in all four server racks, with partitions between the racks. If the data center cooling requirement is fixed at room temperature, certain space between the racks is required. This is not required in the case of precision cooling, since cooling is provided within the racks.

There are multiple benefits of cooling the data center at rack or server levels. To begin with, there is less heat retention of the disk and motherboard. Also, I/Os become less, considerably reducing data center power consumption.

Another initiative taken by the company to optimize data center power utilization has been server virtualization, which has successfully reduced power consumption by almost 40%. The data center power consumption was around 14.5 kW prior to server virtualization. Post-virtualization, it has changed to 10.2 kW. Right now, Godfrey Phillips has put in a constant running temperature of 20 Degree Celsius. Since July 2009, there has been no major fluctuation in the data center temperature. It will be two degrees plus or minus, but nothing major, says Balasubramanian.

As of now, Godfrey Phillips is not planning to use any water chillers due to their costly nature. Also, if there's a space constraint, a data center cannot go for that option. In such cases, precision cooling is a better option to power savings.

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