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IT chiefs urged to tackle "energy crisis"

Quoting IT Week

IT directors have been advised to increase efforts to reduce energy consumption as new evidence emerged highlighting the financial cost to IT departments of power-hungry hardware and soaring electricity prices.

According to a new report due out later this month from datacentre consultancy BroadGroup, UK datacentre providers now spend an average of €5.3m per datacentre on energy, making the UK the most expensive datacentre location in Europe. The report also warned that if electricity prices continue to rise at the current rate then energy costs for an average datacentre will reach €11m by 2010.

The research comes as analyst firm Gartner warned that while energy costs currently account for around 10 percent of overall IT budgets, the increased use of high-density blade servers coupled with rising electricity prices could result in power accounting for over half of IT budgets within the next few years.

Chief of research at Gartner Steve Prentice admitted the figures were purposefully provocative and that energy costs will vary greatly from firm to firm, but he insisted energy costs tend to be higher than IT chiefs believe and that it was perfectly feasible that they could soon account for half of IT budgets.

Gartner argued that IT chiefs needed to act now to help head off this impending "energy crisis" by focusing more on increasing the utilisation rate of their existing servers.

"In the short term the obvious step to take is virtualisation software," said Prentice. "A lot of servers run at less than 10 percent utilisation, because people still have a one application, one server mentality, but virtualisation allows you to drive utilisation up to over 80 percent. That actually means the server uses more power as they spend less time idle, but it is not a linear relationship so it uses far less power than if you buy in more servers."

The rising cost of energy may also encourage datacentre managers to upgrade to new energy-efficient dual-core servers earlier than originally planned, argued Keith Breed, research director at BroadGroup.

Other strategic datacentre decisions are also likely to be affected by rising energy costs. "You can now put 10,000 servers in a datacentre without too many people needed to manage them," explained Prentice. "So whereas you used to make datacentre decisions based on management costs and skills availability, now sensible firms are making those decisions based on energy. Google and Microsoft make no secret of the fact that their next generation datacentres in the US are being located in the Pacific North West because it puts them close to low-cost and reliable hydro-electric power."

Meanwhile, a new survey of 1,200 workers from educational charity the National Energy Foundation last week revealed that a fifth of workplace PCs are not turned off overnight and at weekends - adding a further £115 million to the energy bills of UK firms.

The report, which was commissioned by PC management software provider 1E, argued that for a large office-based firm employing 20,000 staff that equates to 2,500 PCs being left on each night, costing £175,000 a year in electricity and equating to 1,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

Sumir Karayi, chief executive of 1E, said firms should educate staff on the cost savings associated with turning off their PCs and also consider implementing centralised PC management systems that allow IT administrators to automatically turn off PCs and also restart them when necessary to carry out overnight updates.

Read the original, here.

Published Friday, October 06, 2006 6:55 AM by David Marshall
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<October 2006>