Greening the Data Center with RFID

Posted by Ken Lynch on Thu, Jan 19, 2012 @ 04:20 PM

Data CenterBy now you’ve probably figured out that we’re on a mission to reshape the way people think about RFID. “Efficient use of energy in the data center” is not the first thing most people would think of when they think of RFID.  However, with the 1.8 zettabytes of data we are on pace to generate and consume as a society in 2011 (forecasted by IDC) RFID must fit in somewhere!  What’s more, is data centers around the world are expected to use 19 percent more energy in the coming 12 months and more than one-third of companies expect at least one of their data centers to run out of power, cooling or space sometime within the next year. That’s a big problem to have. So what’s the answer?

There needs to be a way to manage the consequences that come along with the advent of Big Data. Not only are large amounts of data hard to manage, but it is also a costly operation. Many organizations are turning to cloud computing services to reduce their reliance on internal servers, which also contribute to lower energy consumption. But is that the only option? In a recent post, I discussed how the use of RFID will generate lots of new data. What if I told you the use of RFID can also be used to drive efficiencies into the data center infrastructure?

Russell Klein, Aberdeen Group analyst noted in a recent eWeek article that businesses large and small should be concerned with controlling data center costs, including energy consumption. One of the ways he suggested organizations do so is with RFID, which can be used to monitor conditions, such as temperature and air pressure. RFID provides real-time data streams to feed the analytics engine, a function other sophisticated infrastructure management platforms lack. As organizations look for more energy efficient IT operations that save money and build better infrastructure, it is likely that RFID will become a frontrunner. 

RFID at Work in the Data Center

Implementing RFID in the data center is a form of asset management, but maybe not the way you currently think of asset management. For example, sensor modules with temperature probes can be wired to RFID tags. The modules are then attached to racks in data centers, where the probes measure the temperature of various devices and use RFID to transmit the data to a reader. The reader receives the temperature data and sends it along to the software residing on a dedicated server. The data is then used to regulate temperature controls in real-time to conserve energy, ultimately reducing the cost to run a data center.

The cost-effectiveness and ease of RFID in this type of implementation allowed the Franchise Tax Board in Sacramento California to reduce the consumption of energy in the agency’s data center by 75 percent, also saving them more than $40,000 a year. Due to the successful results, the state continues to receive funding for the project from the U.S. Department of Energy.

What other ways can we use RFID to create a greener environment?

Tags: RFID, Big Data, Temperature Monitoring, Asset Management

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