Like it or not, energy is the yardstick by which data centers are now measured-and many are coming up short.
Between 2006 and 2007, the energy required by data centers jumped more than 13 percent, according to market researcher IDC. In fact, the cost to power and cool installed servers has doubled since 2000 and is expected to reach almost US$40 billion annually by 2012, predicts IDC.
With high oil prices still fresh in recent memory, companies have focused on driving data center costs down through greater efficiencies. The starting point for the discussion is always reducing the energy requirements, but the need to save energy forces companies to change how they handle their data requirements, says Rich Lechner, VP of energy and the environment for IBM.
"What they are finding is that for every dollar that they save on energy, they can save another six or eight dollars on operational efficiencies," Lechner says.
1. Bad Economy Not Slowing Hunger for Data
Energy requirements will not slow with the economy: The demand for data centers is growing, even in the current downturn.
In its Green IT study, IBM found that 60 percent of mid-sized companies expect to run out of processing power or storage capacity this year.
Even companies that have never considered data centers in the past, are doing so now, because of the economies of scale, says Lechner.
"Customers are, in fact, not decelerating their investments in this area, they are accelerating their investments, because of the payback," he says.
For companies that already have data centers in place-including many older facilities that were not planned efficiently-current economic conditions offer hard choices: Build more efficient facilities, renovate the existing facilities with efficiency in mind, or outsource data center needs.
The trend is not clear yet, whether more companies will decide to lease their computing requirements, says Michelle Bailey, vice president of market researcher IDC's Enterprise Platforms and Datacenter Trends group.
"Data centers have a larger lifecycle to them, so things don't change dramatically," she says. "The need to go to a refresh is pretty profound for a lot of customers."
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