Gartner lays down the rules for data centre economies

Companies should get grip on power costs

A new breed of data centres could solve many of the problems of capacity that are affecting companies today. Changes in data centre design could provide a 300 per cent growth in capacity at the same time as reducing floor size by 30 per cent, said Gartner.

Many companies are being squeezed by data centres reaching capacity and by the high cost of real estate and organisations are looking to squeeze much more from their data centres. Hit by the high cost of power, organisations have tried to get the best from their data centres by spreading out across a larger floor space but this procedure has become unviable.

Companies have to get more from their data centres. "There is a real and growing desire to increase productivity in data centers," said Dave Cappuccio, chief of infrastructure research at Gartner. "Organisations are starting to take a serious look at consumption ratios of compute power to energy consumed and then compare them against estimated productivity of applications and the equipment to deliver that application."

He said that the key to this was increasing the way that assets are being used and companies had to seek to get greater efficiencies. "Most IT assets are underutilised for example, x86 servers are running at 12 per cent utilisation, racks are populated to 50 to 60 per cent capacity, floor space is 'spread out' to disperse the heat load it becomes clear that an efficiently designed and implemented data centre can yield significant improvements."

According to Gartner the cost of the energy needed to run an x86 server will exceed the cost of that server itself. This is unsustainable said Cappuccio. "The days of idle machines sitting on the data center floor during off peak hours will be a thing of the past. At current energy rates a 40kW rack could cost upward of $5,400 per server, per year" he added.

Gartner has produced a checklist for companies looking to cut costs,They include:

1) Implementing row- and rack-based cooling for higher-density equipment can reduce energy consumption by up to 15 per cent.

2) Rightsizing the new data centre by building and provisioning only what is needed and then expanding only when needed can reduce the long-term operating expenses by 10 to 30 per cent.

3) Using air economisers in certain geographies is a simple step with sizable rewards. Many data centres already have air handlers with economiser modes on existing equipment these were disable when energy was not the issue it is today.

4) Paying particular attention to floor layouts, not only with respect to hot aisle/cold aisle factors, but with regard to overall air movement (distance) to reduce workloads on air handling equipment.

5) Virtualise as much as possible especially on x86 equipment. The average x86 server has very low utilisation levels but requires a high degree of its maximum power to run. Push these systems to higher utilisation levels to reduce overall energy consumption, reduce floor space and see more-efficient use of your IT assets.

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Maxwell Cooter

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