Much has been said about businesses becoming more energy efficient to tackle climate change, but energy demands could become a deal breaker in the datacentre for much more immediate reasons.
For the first time, businesses are facing the prospect of limits on how much electricity their datacentres consume. Last year, hosting companies were vying with the London Underground to secure enough power for their huge datacentres beneath the streets of London.
As Helen Beckett observes, plugging in yet another server in the datacentre is no longer an option in Canary Wharf. Businesses are looking to make the most of server consolidation and virtualisation to squeeze more from the precious electricity supply.
And even if the electricity supply will support more servers, there is a risk that the uninterruptible power supplies, used to maintain power in the event of an outage, may become overloaded.
Businesses in the UK must prepare for downtime due to failures in electricity supplies. Such outages occur every year in Silicon Valley, and last summer power failures hit UK datacentres, including a CSC facility used by NHS hospitals in the North West and West Midlands.
Over the next five years datacentre electricity costs are predicted to double. And as power for datacentres becomes a scarce resource, there is likely to be more downtime due to power outages or failures in uninterruptible power supplies.
The time for action is now. This is not about climate change. There is a very real danger that unless the IT industry and user businesses find a way to reduce datacentre power consumption, there will not be enough electricity supply to run new datacentre applications.Comment on this article: firstname.lastname@example.org
This was first published in May 2007