Data centers consume large amounts of electricity, and retailers have the high utility bills and strained budgets to prove it. But experts say that by using wireless networks as a power alternative, retailers could reduce the total terawatt hours they use per year, a move that will cut electricity costs and operate equipment more efficiently.
This same idea was discussed in “Green Wi-Fi, Data Centers and Network Switches,” a study recently released by ABI Research, New York City. Besides evaluating technology vendors’ efforts to offer green Wi-Fi solutions, data center equipment and network switches, it also assesses equipment’s environmental performance.
It was noted that many companies want to move toward “greener” IT operations, but the high levels of electricity required to power hardware in the data center makes it a difficult goal to achieve. Servers in data facilities worldwide now consume 408-megawatt hours of electricity, according to the study. While this is a drop from 433 MWH in 2008, there still can be improvement.
“Retailers already operate on thin margins, and rising energy and electricity costs are not helping,” said Stan Schatt, ABI Research’s VP and practice director. “The timing is ripe for retailers to explore how greener technology options can offset the increasing cost of electricity and create a more energy-efficient business.”
Retailers are facing hurdles as they try to transition to greener IT operations. Their main roadblock is learning how to balance the electricity costs needed to run equipment, as well as the voltage required to cool the hardware.
“If retailers cannot find this balance, these factors have the potential to double data-center operational costs,” Schatt said. One way to contain rising costs and cut energy consumption is to use Power-over-Ethernet systems. Chains are no strangers to Ethernet, a high-speed Internet connection used to link computers, servers or devices within a l o cal area network. Now retailers are learning how it can be a cost-effective power supply.
By plugging an Ethernet cable into a router or Ethernet hub, chains can use the connection as a centralized power and data source. Remote devices interact with the Ethernet through wireless access points, eliminating the need for AC power.
This configuration is ideal for companies that support multiple IP telephones, wireless LAN access points, network cameras, remote network switches, embedded computers and servers—equipment that can become too expensive to power separately
Whenever a retailer can transition operations to wireless networks, it will lower energy consumption,” Schatt reported.
As early adopters of wireless and Wi-Fi technology, retailers are in a strong position to take advantage of PoE systems. For example, as more companies expand their breadth and create more global networks, the number of network switch installations will increase. By adding more PoE switch ports within these configurations, chains will gain a more economical way to add power compared to installing new AC outlets.