In the spring of 2007, UPS's Ben Swanson and Joe Parrino attended a conference on the \n\ngrowing problem of data center power consumption. One suggested remedy was to benchmark and \n\nanalyze the power flowing through the data center. So after the conference, Swanson, the \n\nfacilities department manager, and Parrino, a data center facilities manager, profiled their \n\ntwo main data centers to learn what they could do to increase their energy efficiency and, \n\nultimately, save money.\n\nMore on CIO.com\nFive Ways to Find Data Center Energy Savings\n\nGood Incentives Boost Data-Center Energy Efficiency\n\nSignposts on the Road to Data Center Energy Savings\n\nThey found one crucial area to improve: their 65 computer-room air handlers. Parrino and his \n\nteam found that some of their power distribution units had perforated tops. "We were losing \n\nall sorts of air through the tops of the cabinets," he says, which meant that some of the \n\ncool air circulated by the air handlers was being wasted by cooling the PDUs. They \n\nrestricted the air flow through the cabinets, tested to make sure they wouldn't overheat, \n\nthen turned 24 air handlers off. \n\nThe move has saved UPS 1.6 million kilowatt-hours and about $124,160 per year. And that's \n\nnot all\u2014they also benchmarked their mechanical cooling system and were able to reduce its energy use, saving an additional $100,000 annually. The mechanical plant of these UPS \n\ndata centers consumes about half what a typical data center mechanical plant consumes, \n\naccording to their benchmarking study, Parrino says.\n\nDespite the potential for savings, however, most IT departments have not rushed to benchmark \n\ndata center energy efficiency, primarily because there's no incentive to measure it, says \n\nForrester analyst Doug Washburn. He notes that only 11 percent of IT organizations are \n\nresponsible for paying their energy-related operating costs (the power bill typically goes \n\nto the facilities group). But that's changing: More CIOs are being asked to reduce energy \n\nconsumption, Washburn has found, and, as a result, new metrics\u2014though they come with \n\ncaveats\u2014appear to help pinpoint which areas of your data center can be optimized.\n\nTwo Ways to Benchmark\n\nOne such method of measuring energy efficiency, developed recently by the Uptime Institute, \n\na data center research organization, is Corporate Average Datacenter Efficiency (CADE). This \n\ncalculation multiplies the efficiency of one's technology by the efficiency of the physical \n\nfacility. Uptime calculates IT efficiency by multiplying a data center's IT asset \n\nutilization rate by the energy efficiency of the servers. It determines the facility \n\nefficiency by calculating the amount of space used and multiplying that by the energy efficiency of the building. The higher the CADE number, the more efficient your data center. \n\nThis method tends to be best-suited for larger businesses since those usually have the \n\nautomated monitoring tools to measure server utilization, according to Uptime Institute's \n\nExecutive Director Kenneth Brill.\n\nAnother method\u2014Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE)\u2014was developed by The Green Grid, \n\na group of technology companies collaborating to improve energy efficiency in data centers.\n \n\nThe PUE is calculated by dividing the total utility load (the power coming into your \n\nfacility) by the total IT equipment load (the power consumed by switches, routers, servers \n\nand related gear). In this instance, the lower the PUE, the better.\n\nForrester's Washburn warns that while these methods can be effective, the measurements \n\nrequired to calculate the benchmarks can be challenging to obtain. "Because most \n\norganizations do not pay for their energy-related IT expenditures, many are not measuring \n\nenergy consumption\u2014especially on a granular level\u2014which is required to actually \n\ncalculate your data center energy efficiency metrics," he says.\n\nYour ROI May Vary\n\nAlthough the emergence of industry-accepted benchmarks means you can be more certain you're \n\nmeasuring the right things, Washburn also notes it's usually larger businesses that benefit \n\nfrom benchmarking. The bigger the data center, the more energy it consumes and the more \n\nlikely it will be that you'll have an incentive to reduce consumption. "For smaller \n\nbusinesses, the financial impact may not be as significant, and you can direct your time \n\nelsewhere."\n\nWhat's more, there isn't enough publicly available data yet for companies to benchmark \n\nagainst each other, so it's hard to know how efficient you can really get. If you try to \n\ncompare your energy consumption with another company, peers in your industry might be a good \n\nstart, says Washburn. But a more relevant comparison would be an organization with a \n\nsimilar-sized data center and similar server, storage and network needs. \n\nChristian Belady, principle power and cooling architect for Microsoft Global Foundation \n\nServices and Microsoft's representative to The Green Grid, agrees that there are limits to \n\nthese metrics, specifically for smaller businesses. But he thinks even small organizations \n\ncan still benefit by benchmarking on a smaller scale. Belady says that once CIOs decide to \n\nbenchmark their energy usage, they should consider benchmarks such as The Green Grid's PUE \n\nor any other metrics that may make sense for driving the right behavior for their business. \n\n"The industry is moving so fast that you can't wait for everyone to have the perfect \n\ndefinition of these metrics," he says.\n\nOne key to UPS's benchmarking success, Parrino and Swanson believe, is the support and trust \n\nfrom their CIO, David Barnes, to make these decisions. "You need to constantly strive to \n\nchallenge yourself and be constructively dissatisfied with your own operation," Swanson \n\nsays. \n\nWhether these metrics come from vendors or industry organizations, Washburn believes that \n\nthey're a good starting point for benchmarking. "At the end of the day, in most cases you'll \n\nbe able to use the metrics regardless of which method you chose."\n\nWhether these metrics come from vendors or industry organizations, Washburn believes that \n\nthey're a good starting point for benchmarking. "At the end of the day, in most cases you'll \n\nbe able to use the metrics regardless of which method you chose."