While companies are finally starting to invest in gear and software to beat back the data center’s energy-sucking ways, here’s one of the first acquisitions I’ve seen in the so-called green data center sector: this morning, power management company Eaton (s ETN) says it has agreed to acquire Wright Line Holding, a company that sells data center energy management hardware.
Neither Eaton or Wright Line are the kind of names that draw much media coverage. Eaton is a century-old company that sells everything from electrical components to mobile equipment to vehicle powertrain systems. Wright Line is a several-decade old company that gets hot and bothered over things like enclosures within the data center that route hot and cool air more efficiently. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
But the purchase agreement highlights just how top-of-mind energy is becoming in terms of the design and management of data centers. According to a report out from research firm Forrester last month 70 percent of companies are already doing the simple energy-saving low-hanging fruit like virtualizing servers — replacing server hardware with software — which eliminates the energy consumption of the retired machines.
About half of the companies in the Forrester survey are already (or planning on) rearranging the hot and cool aisles in data centers to optimize cooling. Cooling systems for data centers often come in the form of large chillers, and can be responsible for half of the data center’s energy consumption. And a quarter of the companies in the Forrester survey said they had already implemented precision cooling, which is cooling systems targeted at certain sections of the data center.
Managing data center cooling via various types of enclosures, software and sensors is what Wright Line is all about. Earlier this year it launched a system called Rack Hygiene that identifies and fixes inefficient air flow around racks. It’s geeky stuff (Wright actually described Rack Hygiene as helping companies achieve “rack hygiene nirvana”), but Wright says technology like Rack Hygiene can help data center owners save 30 percent annually on energy costs.
Data center operators will need to do something to cut the rapidly rising energy costs of all of the data centers being built to support our growing always-on Internet consumption habits. Just this week Facebook said it plans to double the size of its new data center before it’s even built. The electricity used by the world’s servers alone doubled between 2000 and 2005, to about 123 billion kilowatt-hours, and if current trends continue, data center power use is likely to increase another 76 percent by 2010.
Expect to see many more acquisitions in the green data center space. Last month General Electric said it invested in SynapSense, a startup which makes wireless monitoring and management systems that track energy consumption for data centers.
For more research on green data center tech check out Giga OM Pro (subscription required):