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Energy Is 12 Percent of Data Center Costs, Says Gartner

Energy is rising faster than other category of data center expenses, and the rising population of servers is blamed. Could virtualization help?

Energy is rising faster than other category of data center expenses, and the rising population of servers is blamed. Could virtualization help?Now Gartner is saying that energy-related costs (which include cooling) account for about 12 percent of data center spending, and the end of the recession is likely to make things worse.

That's because server shipments are expected to grow at 5 percent yearly for at least the next two years, as IT departments finally get the green light to buy the hardware they're been yearning for during the lean years. Servers, of course, are those boxes that are stacked in data centers where they gush heat that has to be countered with air conditioning.

To get a handle on the situation, Gartner is promoting the concept of power utilization efficiency (PUE) readings, and say that you should get energy usage data for your building, electrical facilities, racks, IT hardware, and virtual machines.

But it might be better to consider the implications of Gartner's previous statement about servers, which is that 90 percent of servers are low-end x86 machines, most are deployed on the basis of one machine per application, and consequently, their utilization rate is only about 10 to 20 percent. As a result, virtualization is taking hold, and a quarter of the server workload should be running on virtual machines by year's end.

In other words, the server market ought not be growing, it should be drying up as people find they don't have to run one application on one machine, and thereby cut their inventory by a factor of, say, six. Energy use should be dwindling, not growing, and people should not be talking about founding data centers in Iceland (where air conditioning means opening a window.)

Apparently it doesn't work that way. Presumably, virtualization is too steep a hill for a lot of users to climb, and when it isn't they want the latest, greatest hardware to virtualize to.

So maybe next year things will stabilize. Meanwhile, in terms of green business, our reach continues to exceed our grasp.

But, of course, that defines the human experience in just about every field.

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