Gaining momentum in data centers

2011-12-05 - ABB addressing cutomer's needs with wide range of new offerings

Data centers consume vast amounts of energy every year. Size for size they consume around 30 or more times the power used to run the average office building. In total that’s a staggering 80 million megawatt hours of electricity a year.

Rows of servers storing trillions of megabytes of information operate around the clock to enable organizations to run applications, process information and automate their operations. At home they allow you to upload a video, play a game, share a photo, e-mail a friend, tweet your location or check your bank balance.

With the addition of more than 5.75 million new servers every year, worldwide carbon emissions from data centers will quadruple by 2020. On average, one data center uses the equivalent power of 25,000 US homes and together they produce CO2 emissions that are fast approaching the levels generated by countries such as Argentina or the Netherlands.

Significant amounts of energy can be saved through improvements to data center equipment, facility design and management, and ABB provides a wealth of expertise, engineering, products and support, to not only help today’s data centers operate more efficiently, but also to operate safely and more reliably.

With reported data center outages costing $1 million or more per hour, uptime is critical particularly for banking and financial institutions. With more than a century of experience providing equipment, systems and expertise to utilities and industries, ABB is well equipped to apply its knowledge to data centers where it can help reduce unplanned outages, improve service quality and save energy.

Computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems operate on direct current (DC), yet the grid-supplied power coming into data centers is alternating current (AC). DC technology can trim power conversion losses providing between 10 and 20 percent more energy efficiency than traditional AC technology. This is because DC data centers are less complex, requiring fewer components that produce less heat, which means they occupy less space and require less cooling. With fewer components the time spent on installation and maintenance is also reduced, which together can save up to 30 percent of the total cost of a facility.

Recently, ABB has ramped up its activity in DC data centers, announcing last month that it will develop a new data center module based on DC power, in partnership with IO ( In July ABB announced a project to design and install an adavanced DC power distribution system for, one of the top information and communications technology (ITC) service providers in Switzerland. It will be designed and engineered to’s stringent ecological standards by Validus DC Systems (an ABB company).

As data center expansion continues, whether AC or DC, energy management software to optimize capacity, service levels, and consumption is required. Commonly data centers are designed to provide capacity for extreme situations, but they are largely under used during off-peak periods. In many companies the daily utilization rate of servers can be anywhere between 5 and 10 percent, wasting both energy and employed capital. Last year, ABB invested in Power Assure, a developer of power management and optimization software for data centers and has since developed a suite of software, hardware and services called DecathlonTM Data Center Enterprise Management (DCEM) that improves energy management and provides advanced predictive maintenance capabilities. This system analyzes a variety of data such as IT load patterns, weather forecasts, contract and utility rate data to predict and adjust energy consumption to ensure data centers are more reliable and energy efficient.

Decathlon Data Center Enterprise Management

Decathlon enables better control and proactive maintenance of data center operations, with access to information from multiple systems, providing potential energy savings of 10 to 50 percent. The system can expand to provide DCEM across multiple sites, which can result in savings worth millions of dollars for some enterprises each year.

In addition to datacenter infrastructure and enterprise management, ABB can offer grid connections for green field projects. ABB’s portfolio includes substations, switchgear, power distribution units (PDUs), emergency back-up power solutions, power management systems, circuit breakers, surge protectors, disconnectors, active filters, high-efficiency motors and drives, and building control and automation systems. ABB also supplies essential electronic components to the makers of battery-based UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) equipment, which can ensure an emergency power supply for up to 30 minutes, and power generating units for longer term power continuity. These areas of expertise make us ideal partners for data center developers.

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