When market research and advisory firm Gartner decided to remove green data centers from its list of strategic imperatives for 2011, the decision was met with some gnashing of teeth. But, frankly, the decision didn't really surprise me all that much because energy efficiency, space optimization, infrastructure consolidation, and proper disposal of outdated technologies have become mainstream -- almost commonplace -- for data center IT managers. In other words, energy efficiency is not a separate concern, it's probably the primary concern after resiliency.
The spirit of that decision makes itself felt in new Gartner commentary on data center design imperatives. According to Gartner, the trend toward higher density will be felt through 2012 -- that's density both in terms of the compute resources that are placed on the data center floor and the density of the power and cooling equipment supporting that equipment. The reason this is important is pretty simple: if current trends continue, the energy needed to operate a server over a three year period of time will actually exceed the cost of the technology itself. That is a fairly sobering concept.
According to Dave Cappuccio, chief of infrastructure research for Gartner, who is quoted on this topic in a recent press release, "at current energy rates, a 40-kilowatt rack could cost upward of $5,400 per server per year."
But high-density designs could push a 300 percent increase in capacity in about 60 percent less space than current data centers, according to his research team.
Gartner recommends five this you can do in order to reduce power consumption. None of these are exactly rocket science and I've written about all of them before, but they bear repeating:
- Use row and rack-based cooling for high-density equipment, which apparently can reduce energy usage by up to 15 percent
- Build and provision only what is needed
- User air-side economizers in geographies where they work (you may already have air handlers that support this)
- Scrutinize floor layouts for optimal air movement
- Virtualize everywhere you can, especially on commodity hardware that eat up a lot of electricity