Eco-Friendly – Reducing our Server Power Consumption with Micro-Computers

Eco-Friendly – Reducing our Server Power Consumption with Micro-Computers


The following blog post has been requested by various members of the Raspberry Pi (a Micro Computer!) community to share our experience whilst working on the project. This doesn’t have a lot to do with security, so we forgive our regular readers if they wish to stop here, but it does showcase the expertise of our teams working together.

Raspberry Pi 2
Raspberry Pi Model 2 ready for use in our Server Cluster.

In an ever changing world that increasingly relies on technology to bring faster and more efficient services to the customer; larger businesses like Rossells are cornered into operating their own in house server systems for a wide range of purposes. Ours for example, run our stock control, online web services, emails, monitor remote building management and handle calls through our phone system. A while ago we started by cramming our big, energy thirsty phone system into a tiny Raspberry Pi (we’ll post a link below) with outstanding energy savings.

Since then both our Access Control Team, and the IT guys have been experimenting with creating a reliable setup for processing our Emails and the server that runs our Websites. They recently made a breakthrough following the release of the new Raspberry Pi 2. The most notable changes to the processing power and memory have given the new board around four times the performance of the previous model. This speed boost has made the original setup much more suitable for use within a busy production environment. Our Rossells website and online store alone pump out 1300 web pages to all over the world each day, alongside nearly 300 emails from our office.

During the two month testing period, the Access Control team designed a smart solar charging system, incorporating a highly efficient power convertor from the 12v system over to 5v that the new server cluster needed. When fully charged, tests showed the batteries alone will run the servers for just under two days. With around 9 hours of daylight (tests carried out in February), the solar panel gave enough charge for around 26 hours of operation. During the summer months we expect the batteries to be taking on a full charge every day. For the winter, there is a built in emergency override facility to power the servers from the mains supply (240v) should the solar charging become unsustainable.

We won’t be going too much into the software for security reasons, but we have managed to bring in compact versions of our regular server software with a few programming tweaks to boost them up for performing at their best. As shown in the video below, our web server is currently running Apache.

Now we’re fully aware that our entire company network hasn’t just become ‘green’, but this is another step in the right direction for Rossells. I’m very proud of how our teams have committed themselves to this project, pushing the boundaries of what we’re told is possible with the hardware. Our customers are lucky to have such skilled and passionate engineers working on their various projects.

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