Datacentre power: New hardware cranks up the costs

Blade servers increase electricity bills as datacentres expand again...

Blade servers increase electricity bills as datacentres expand again...

Businesses need to watch datacentre power usage very carefully over the next few years as energy becomes a significantly larger part of overall running costs.

Energy-related costs constitute 12 per cent of the bill for running the average datacentre, according to analyst firm Gartner, and that percentage is likely to increase as organisations expand their technology after the recession.

Gartner research vice president Rakesh Kumar said energy costs are rising more quickly than other expenses because new hardware is denser than older kit. More energy is now needed to power equipment with the same physical footprint as the older hardware. Blades, for example, require considerably more energy than older-style rack servers.

Gartner also predicts a five per cent annual growth in server shipments over the next two years. That growth, together with the higher power consumption of the new equipment, suggests organisations will have to control their energy costs much more carefully.

Microsoft's Chicago datacentre - monitoring datacentre energy usage will become increasingly important in the next few years

Businesses are likely to expand their datacentres in the next few years and energy costs will need to be carefully monitored
Photo credit: Microsoft

Kumar advises businesses to measure energy-related data across the organisation including the building, components of the datacentre and other IT equipment.

Part of monitoring energy usage more effectively will be continuous measuring of the power utilisation efficiency (PUE) of datacentres. A datacentre's PUE is calculated by dividing the power required to run a facility by the power used to run the IT itself - the lower number, the greater the efficiency.

Gartner predicts that 80 per cent of new large datacentres will report continuous PUE readings by 2015.

To achieve accurate and real-time records of datacentre energy usage, six areas need to be measured: building, electrical facilities, building facilities, racks, IT hardware and virtual machines.

Kumar added that energy management across IT hardware, racks and electrical facilities requires immediate attention while the datacentre building and facilities are more important for hosting providers wanting to charge customers for energy usage.

Monitoring virtual machine energy usage will become more common over the next five years as users look at power used against specific workloads.

silicon.com recently took a look around Capgemini's Merlin datacentre, which the company describes as the most sustainable in the world.

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