Seven ways to make big datacentre savings

Businesses can make massive savings in the operating costs of their datacentres by taking relatively inexpensive steps, such as removing servers.

Businesses can make massive savings in the operating costs of their datacentres by taking relatively inexpensive steps, such as removing servers.

How to cut your datacentre costs

  1. Rationalise hardware
  2. Consolidate datacentre sites
  3. Manage energy and facilities costs
  4. Renegotiate IT contracts
  5. Manage the staff costs
  6. Sweat the assets
  7. Virtualisation

Given decreasing IT budgets, Rakesh Kumar, research vice-president at Gartner, says, "Removing a single x86 server will result in savings of more than $400 a year in energy costs alone."

CIOs that start a consolidation and virtualisation project can expect it to pay off in 12 to 18 months. CIOs should also extend the life of x86 servers beyond the three to five-year timeframe, which Gartner says will lead to savings of up to 32%.

According to Gartner, hardware rationalisation projects usually yield savings of 5% to 10% of the overall hardware costs, when measured post project. Hardware rationalisation also improves inventory management and should lower maintenance and support charges.

Next, Gartner recommends that CIOs consolidate multiple datacentre sites into a few larger sites, which it says will result in financial savings of between 5% and 15% of the overall datacentre budget.

As well as reducing the number of buildings, Gartner expects CIOs will be able to get rid of redundant IT assets, software, maintenance and support, and disaster recovery contracts. Gartner urges users not just to get rid of people but to retrain them to fill skill gaps in other parts of the datacentre or wider IT organisation.

By running datacentres at 24°C, CIOs can reduce their cooling requirements, which will help lower electricity bills, according to Gartner. Users should also use outside/free air as an alternative to air conditioning and run hot aisle/cold aisle configurations, blanking panels and economisers to improve the efficiency of cooling.

Businesses should use server-based energy management software to run workloads in the most energy efficient way, such as taking advantage of lower energy tariffs.

Gartner urges IT directors to work with finance and procurement teams to revisit all hardware, lease, software, maintenance and support contracts. In some cases, it may be appropriate to terminate a contract because it is too expensive, while in others, new terms and conditions may secure a lower payment schedule. Suppliers are used to reviewing contracts during downturns, Gartner says.

The next area of cost reduction is in staffing. Gartner advises users to review staffing levels and the types of skills needed for the next 24 months and to make maximum use of labour arbitrage benefits by using skills in regions with cheaper labour rates, such as India, Brazil, Poland and Romania.

Delaying the procurement of new assets should be considered a necessary step for all datacentre managers, according to Gartner. Putting off upgrades may result in a performance disadvantage and possibly an energy use increase but will defer the capital expense of a new acquisition.

Finally, Gartner recommends users run virtualisation to improve operational efficiency, as well as to support consolidation, decommissioning and cost management programmes. Gartner estimates that users can expect to see net savings within 24 months, and the effective use of virtualisation can reduce server energy consumption by as much as 82% and floor space by as much as 86%.

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