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Measure servers against cost of power and cooling to cut energy bills, says Gartner

Businesses will be spending as much on powering and cooling datacentres as they do on servers unless they improve monitoring of equipment in datacentres, Gartner has warned.

"There are no current metrics to compare how much more energy efficient one datacentre is with another, but managers need to get a stake in the ground about how much energy consumption is rising in line with the processing power they are adding," said analyst Rakesh Kumar.

Kumar said that datacentres should monitor the number of blade servers they are adding to datacentres to make sure gains in processing power are not being offset by increases in energy costs.

He advised companies to create energy maps to understand the where power was travelling to, how much each piece of equipment was using, and its energy costs.

Reducing costs through virtualisation and consolidating the number of datacentres would only work if they had these measurements first.

Even if a company decides to outsource the problem of power and cooling, they will be able to benchmark if the supplier is doing a better job.

On the cooling front, Kumar said that firms should look at thermal modelling software for data centres, so that cooling systems could target specific hot areas at a specified temperatures and times, rather than provide more expensive blanket coverage.

The average cost of running a UK enterprise data centre is estimated at £5 million and powering and cooling costs currently account for 4%-7%. This percentage will double by 2012 as businesses will require more processing power per square foot from their datacentre to cope with growth.

Intellect top tips for cutting energy bills

1. Consolidate equipment where possible to accept an higher workload on like systems. Look at selective replacement with modern multi-core processors which allow greater throughput at lower power consumption and heat generation.

2. Adopt Virtualisation to increase the optimum loading of equipment for like and unlike systems. Typical middleware allows for dynamic relocation of processes allowing systems "nesting" for out of hours power down.

3. Improve system management capabilities to enable remote power down and wake up on Lan-type services to reduce power consumption outside peak hours.

4. Consider alternative cooling methods. What about using outside air most of the year? Can you run the datacentre at higher temperatures? Consider smart cooling strategies to allow workloads to be matched to optimal cooling loads.


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