It was in March 2009 that IDFC was upgrading its IT infrastructure for facilitating its business expansion plans. The company and its management were sensitive about social and environmental responsibilities. Upgrading its data centers to be environment friendly became mandatory—the new facility had to be an energy efficient green data center.
At that point in time, India had several agencies that could certify buildings as ‘green’—none that had capabilities to certify a green data center. IDFC decided to consider agencies in the United States and Europe which offered such data center certification standards. “TÜV Rheinland, a Germany based agency was offering green data certification. We contacted their Indian office in Bangalore, which provided us with specifications for the certification process,” explains V C Kumanan, the senior director of IT at IDFC.
The making of a green data center
IDFC started construction of its data center in November 2009. TÜV Rheinland’s requirements had to be implemented at the design stage itself. This was critical to ensure building of a green data center from the ground up.
The green data center specification required creation of an energy efficiency management system document from IDFC. This document was critical to define a set of policies that meet green data center requirements. These policies broadly define the necessary energy efficiency levels to be maintained for optimal power utilization effectiveness (PUE) ratios. The globally desired average PUE ratio is 1.83.
IDFC rolled out a real-time measurement system that monitored energy consumption from various sections of the infrastructure. A meter to monitor energy consumption and efficiency was installed in every part of the infrastructure—right from server racks to power supply panels.
IDFC’s 1500 square feet green data center has been built with the objective of supporting the company’s server farm for up to five years. These servers occupied 50 percent of the data center space. “Cooling systems form a major source of power consumption, so we installed partitions around the servers and the raised flooring. This isolated servers from the empty data center space. It facilitated better use of cooling systems on this server farm, “explains Uma Ramani, the vice president of IT at IDFC.
To achieve its green data center requirements, IDFC integrated the energy management policies onto its building management system. This system is used to monitor energy consumption and heat levels of data center equipment. IDFC’s building management system issues alerts when values for any equipment go above the threshold limits (required to meet desired energy efficiency levels). It also issues daily reports based on the energy consumption values collected from each report. This helps IDFC dynamically tweak its green data center infrastructure based on the day’s energy consumption.
Ramani informs that IDFC’s green data center has n+1 redundancy at all levels (such as power, cooling and IT). Due to this requirement, equipment calibrations are carefully calculated to ensure reduction of the data center’s overall energy consumption without affecting availability and uptime requirements. For instance, if the green data center has a primary cooling system and a backup cooling system, the backup system will be run on standby mode to save energy. The precision air conditioning system also features electronic commutating (EC) technology to ensure automatic regulation of air conditioning fan speeds as per the amount of generated heat. This reduces the overall energy consumption.
In addition to these measures, IDFC’s team relies on the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) specification which allows operation of data center environments at higher temperatures than the traditional values (19 to 20 degree Celsius). “We ran our data center at 23 degree Celsius for over four months and managed considerable power savings. Today, our overall energy consumption for the green data center has reduced by 16 percent,” informs Ramani.