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Racktivity Racks Up $8M for Energy Efficient Data Centers

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Last week, we were thankful for the trend of more energy-efficient data centers finally offering a competitive advantage for companies. Startups are following that money. Wednesday morning, Racktivity, a two-year-old company that makes power distribution and monitoring gear and software for data centers, announced it has raised an $8 million Series B round of funding led by the VCs at Partech.

The financing will help Racktivity, which has been running its European headquarters in Belgium, bring its product to the U.S. market in the first quarter of next year. To support its U.S. push, the company has also opened an office in Redwood City, Calif. The folks behind Racktivity are founder and CTO Wilbert Ingels, who hailed from Level 3 (s lvlt) and Terremark (s tmrk), Belgian serial entrepreneur and Chairman Kristof De Spiegeleer, and CEO Marco DeMiroz.

Racktivity’s hardware and software can be used to cut energy consumption of data centers in some creative ways. It’s power distribution unit can monitor energy consumption down to the plug level, can hook into third-party sensor systems to monitor temperatures of the environment, and enables commercial data center operators to be able to offer dynamic pricing based on energy consumption.

Cutting energy consumption in data centers is a trend Internet giants like Google (s GOOG), Yahoo (s YHOO), and even Facebook are starting to pay attention to. Yahoo earlier this year opened up its first data center based on its chicken coop design, which utilizes 100 percent outside air and uses 40 percent less energy than typical data centers. While cooling can traditionally suck up a good half of the energy consumption of a data center, Yahoo’s Coop design attributes just 1 percent of its annual energy consumption to cooling.

Startups are eager to tap into that trend, and companies like SynapSense, Sentilla, and Power Assure have been racking up investments and customers. GE (s GE) has backed SynapSense, which makes wireless sensor technology and software to monitor and reduce power usage and cooling in data centers, while power company ABB (s ABB) has invested in Power Assure, a startup that makes software to ramp up and down the power consumption of data centers to coincide with server usage.

According to the DOE, data centers are responsible for 3 percent of U.S. energy consumption, and growing, and a typical 125,000-SF data center consumes $3 million worth of energy per year. U.S. data center power use is expected to double by 2015 to add up to $7.4 billion in annual power bills, the EPA says. That could drive a fourfold increase in the green data center market to some $41.4 billion by 2015, Pike Research estimates.

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Image courtesy of The Planet.