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Datacentres: Cool the costs, users told

Cliff Saran

IT departments could make substantial savings in electricity costs by paying greater attention to datacentre cooling requirements, according to a report from Forrester Research.

The analyst firm said datacentres require 0.5 to 1 watt of cooling power for each watt of server power used. In a 1,000-server computer room, this becomes a significant cost.

"Optimising your cooling systems will improve the energy efficiency of your datacentre considerably," said Richard Fichera, vice-president at Forrester Research. Using energy efficient servers was another way to bring down costs, he added.

Fichera expected IT suppliers to target users looking at greater energy efficiency over the next 24 months. "There is money in efficiency," he said.

Making datacentres more power efficient will require radical improvements by suppliers of semiconductors, systems and software. But these changes could limit users' control over systems, Fichera warned.

Along with energy efficient hardware, Forrester Research recommended that users look to maximise the usage of their existing server infrastructure.

Fichera said, "Because a typical x86 server consumes between 30% and 40% of its maximum power when it is idle, running systems with very light workloads wastes power." Increasing the average utilisation of the servers can yield significant benefits in overall operational efficiency.

Since datacentres are designed to last many years, users have generally chosen large facilities to accommodate current and future computing requirements. However, Forrester Research recommended that users select a dense datacentre. This is likely to cost more per square foot, but because it would be smaller, it could potentially be cooled more efficiently, the analyst firm said.

"A modular approach to provisioning and cooling the incremental space as it is needed can pay off with major gains in efficiency," Fichera said.

Read article: Rising costs in the datacentre


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