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Research: Server farm size influences how concerned UK firms are with datacentre energy efficiency

ASUS research highlights differing attitudes towards datacentre energy efficiency by UK firms depending on how big their server farm estate is

UK firms that run a relatively small number of servers in their datacentres are more likely to prioritise achieving energy efficiency than those with a much larger server farm footprint, research suggests.

A survey commissioned by server manufacturer, ASUS, reports that there is a distinct difference in the attitude of companies towards making their datacentres energy efficient based on the number of servers they run.

For instance, its data shows that in UK organisations with 11 or more servers, fewer than 34% of respondents said energy efficiency is a factor in their server-purchasing decisions. However, in firms running two-to-five servers, this figure rose to 71%.

Furthermore, 56% of the firms from the group with the larger datacentre footprint said server-related energy costs are a line item in their IT budgets, but for firms with smaller IT estates, this figure stands at 89%.

The poll was compiled from the responses of 500 individuals, including 400 who said they work in IT, while the rest said they specialised in procurement.

Out of those quizzed, from the cohort with the lower number of servers, 89% said their organisation has a formal energy-efficiency and sustainability policy in place, while less than half (47%) in the group with a higher number of servers said the same.

The survey’s findings, which feature in ASUS’s 22-page Energy-efficiency in the datacentre report, also revealed a potential difference in how highly respondents prioritise ICT energy efficiency based on their age.

For example, 57% of respondents aged 25-34 said server-related energy costs should be a line item in their IT budgets, while 21% disagreed. Among respondents aged 55 and over, though, just 19% agreed and almost half (46%) disagreed.

Elsewhere, when asked how likely they are to act on the prioritisation of energy efficiency, 60% of respondents in the 25-34 age range said they would, whereas just 31% of respondents said the same in the 55-plus category.

Morten Mjels, UK and Ireland country product manager for servers at ASUS, said the survey’s findings also brought to light a number of misconceptions about how prioritising energy efficiency in servers means having to compromise on performance.

“We asked respondents to identify the top three factors in their server purchasing decisions, and it would have been perfectly possible for any respondent to say, ‘Performance, energy efficiency, warranty and these are equally important’, or ‘Price, energy efficiency, performance and these are equally important’,” he said.

“But they didn’t – the data seem to indicate that purchasers think there’s a trade-off between these attributes, forcing IT managers and procurement departments to choose based on which attribute is most important to their organisation.”

Mjels continued: “This is a misperception. All major manufacturers are focused on improving server energy efficiency, while performance world records are broken all the time, by the same servers. It’s a story the industry needs to tell more: you can have both energy efficiency and performance.”

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