Energy saving mode makes data servers 10 percent more efficient

A coalition of companies and governments from the Amsterdam data center chain has achieved energy savings of 10 percent in recent months by running data servers in 'saving mode' without any loss of performance. With this data center energy saving coalition 'LEAP' (Lower Energy Acceleration Program) achieves its first demonstrable success in the goal of reducing energy consumption by 20 to 40 percent in the next three years. The positive results of the pilots at Schiphol, KPN, Rabobank and the North Sea Canal Area Environmental Service have now been actively shared with the parties in the LEAP coalition. The active sharing of the results, on the basis of information, instruction and training material, the so-called 'Happy Flow Manual', should make the transition to wide-ranging use of the energy-efficient eco mode quickly and efficiently applicable to any organization.

“The data center must change the way we think about power consumption” LEAP in the Financieele Dagblad of January 22, 2020 –

  • Energy consumption of data servers decreases by directly linking energy consumption to workload
  • Performance loss with energy-efficient server settings has not been observed
  • Knowledge, prioritization and behavioral change are keys to better use of the existing saving mode on data servers

Over the past ten years, ICT energy efficiency programs in the Netherlands, such as the MJA3-ICT, have led to energy-efficient data centers. The demand for energy in the ICT sector will increase in the coming years as a result of an enormous increase in data traffic. LEAP is an initiative to further optimize energy efficiency of data use with the help of ICT. Governments, companies and knowledge institutions are working together to achieve a sustainable digital economy at a faster pace.

“Participation in this pilot shows that you can achieve energy savings of 10 to 13 percent with little effort. That is really special. It is mainly a matter of checking your settings again and ensuring that your servers are running when they really need to deliver performance. The fear that this will affect your performance is unfounded, ”said Mark Spronk, Senior Project Manager at Schiphol.

First energy optimization

The number of physical servers that are currently active in the Netherlands is more than one million. This study looked at 60 of them. No technological innovation is required to put these data servers in eco mode. It is a setting that data center customers can activate themselves in the hardware or software, but which is not yet being used optimally.

The pilots show that power management yields an average saving of 10%. In addition, it appears that better use of virtualization (merging tasks into fewer servers) can result in an even greater effect. The pilots showed that a lot of server capacity is unused and that better use of virtualization can reduce the number of servers. This saves both energy and material. “Virtualization and consolidation of 10 or more of these underutilized servers is easy to do and results in much greater energy savings than simply applying power management to each individual server. In addition, it leads to financial savings and less use of critical materials. In short, these techniques mean that existing servers do more work, so that fewer physical servers need to run in a data center, ”says Jelle Eric de Vries, Sustainability Advisor at KPN. The combination of ‘virtualization’ and ‘power management’ seems to offer the best possibilities for energy saving of data servers.

“Energy saving mode makes data center considerably more efficient” LEAP in the Financieele Dagblad of January 21, 2020 –

Manual for activating ‘power management’ and ‘virtualization’

Despite the fact that some companies are well aware of the benefits that energy savings can bring, the actual activation of this mode on a large scale has not yet been achieved. This has three reasons: a lack of technical knowledge about the opportunities of virtualization, false prejudices about loss of performance when using power management and a lack of priority and policy. LEAP will help organizations to take the step to ‘power management’ by making the ‘Happy Flow Manual’ accessible, which has been drawn up with the hardware vendors. A simple first step-by-step plan with which all organizations that have data servers, in their own office or in a data center, learn to activate ‘power management’ and become aware of the opportunities of virtualization and work more efficiently.

“We are very pleased to be able to show that applying ‘power management’ to data servers leads to a direct reduction in the energy consumption of servers by an average of 10 percent. Without loss of performance. In total, this can save energy worth 61,000 Dutch households. A great first step in a process in which the focus will now shift from optimization based on existing technology to research and development of new technology, circular ICT procurement and distributed solutions. Innovative developments and innovations that bring us closer to a sustainable digital economy, ”said Marjolein Bot, LEAP Lead at the Amsterdam Economic Board.

Invitation to collaboration

With LEAP we want to show that cooperation leads to results and offers room for growth. The goal is to make a difference and take steps forward together with hardware manufacturers, business customers, IT administrators, data centers, governments, knowledge institutions, start-ups and consumers.

If your organization has a lot of data traffic and a significant energy demand and if you are or want to be active in making this energy efficient and sustainable, we invite you to participate. Or maybe you use or know a state-of-the-art innovation in this field that can deliver significant energy savings and is scalable? Join by contacting Marjolein Bot , Energy Lead.

21 January 2021

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