Why we need to address storage to tackle datacentre efficiency

The logical choice for IT leaders is to migrate as many workloads as possible into the public cloud. But, not everything can be moved and if Gartner’s IT spending forecast is anything to go by, businesses are likely to continue to invest in datacentres and the equipment these buildings house. Whether it is to comply with regulations that impact data sovereignty or the fact that some workloads simply cannot be run on a public cloud, Gartner believes the corporate datacentre is here to stay.

Gartner is not alone. But from an energy usage perspective, on-premise datacentres require vast amounts of power and cooling. In fact, new research from Atlantic Ventures has found that across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, more than half of datacentre energy consumption is from traditional on-premise datacentres.

Those enterprise database applications that require server-based processing running across pools of data storage, will continue to operate in corporate datacentres. Not only do the servers have an energy footprint, but enterprise storage also requires power. In fact, Atlantic Ventures estimates that while 40% of datacentre energy globally is on the server side, storage accounts for 19% of overall datacentre energy consumption. The storage arrays are also networked, which increases the energy footprint a bit more. And on top of that, there is the extra UPS capacity and diesel generators needed to keep all this equipment running in the event of a power failure.

Data costs

While data can represent an enterprise’s most valuable asset, the data stores that reside in enterprise datacentres are its crown jewels.

And while many believe data is the new oil, Jon Cosson, head of IT and CISO at wealth manager JM Finn, believes organisations are storing far too much data. The company is using hyperconverged infrastructure from Nutanix, which removes the necessity for separate enterprise storage arrays. When Computer Weekly spoke to Cosson about IT energy efficiency, he said: “We are storing data far longer than we need to for regulatory compliance. How inefficient is that?”

In his experience, organisations are falling into the trap of storing data that they do not really need. Cosson says he would like to reduce the company’s storage footprint further and the fuel crisis is helping the company to focus more on energy consumption.

This is the challenge IT leaders now face. They want to enable the business to collect and process whatever data it needs, but this comes at a cost, both financially and in terms of energy efficiency. There’s no right or wrong answer, but a balance is definitely needed.

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