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Answers for Data Center Managers to Consider from Gartner

December 09, 2009

Data Center Rows with CPI TeraFrame CabinetI recently came across an article written by Bob DeCoufle on titled “Gartner: Data center energy costs are not getting cheaper”. In the article DeCoufle addresses some of the challenges data center manager face as they bear the burden of keeping a data center operational, and according to Gartner the task is not getting any easier.

Data center demand for more power and cooling has driven energy bills at data centers worldwide upward. The costs to operate a data center are gaining the attention of the board room which in turn is filtering to the data center manager to determine methods to reduce costs without making a large investment in facility or IT infrastructure.

Below are several questions and answers from Gartner that DeCoufle included in his article.

Q: Is there a standardized way to break down my data center costs?

A: There is no single, standardized method to account for data center costs. Gartner advises users to define a chart of accounts that specifies all the cost elements that constitute the overall cost and the key portfolios or categories that are part of that cost.

Q: Do you have any pragmatic tips for helping me to cut my data center costs?

A: Gartner has several suggestions:

  • Rationalize the Hardware. This involves taking out those systems that are underutilized or old, or where the workload can be run on more efficient hardware. Gartner clients have reported that rationalization and consolidation programs have resulted in 5 per cent to 20 per cent fewer servers being deployed.
  • Consolidate Data-Center Sites. Consolidating multiple sites into a smaller number of larger sites will often result in financial savings.
  • Manage Energy and Facilities Costs. Tools and techniques for managing the energy cost curve include: raising the temperature of the data center to around 24 degrees Celsius, which reduces the level of cooling required; using outside air as an alternative to air conditioning where possible; using hot aisle/cold aisle configurations, blanking and economizers; and using server based energy management software tools to run workloads in the most energy efficient way.

spyglass-icon.jpgCPI has a full line of thermal management products to assist you in achieving utmost efficiency. CPI Passive Cooling™ Solutions allow higher set points on cooling systems and creates higher temperature return air for maximum efficiency. Chilled water temperatures can also be increased to provide more economizer days.

  • Manage the People Costs. People costs still form the single largest cost element for most data centers, sometimes as much as 40 per cent of overall costs.
  • Sweat the Assets. Delaying the procurement of new assets is a necessary step for all data center managers, especially as a server's useful life often exceeds its amortized life.

Q: Should I start measuring the energy efficiency of my data center?

A: Energy management can be effective only through advanced monitoring, modeling and measuring techniques and processes. Metrics form the bedrock for internal cost and efficiency programs and Gartner urges data center managers and IT organizations to make this area a high priority, which will be essential for the adoption of so many new technologies and adherence to government policies.

spyglass-icon.jpgCPI has tools and experts that can help you determine your data center’s efficiency and provide models to determine improvement opportunities.

Q: What are the pitfalls of refurbishing my data center?

A: Considerations include:

  • Location of Current Data Center. Many businesses have data centers that have been acquired over many years through business growth and not all are ideally located - for example, some are in cities where labor costs are high. Companies need to evaluate the location of the data center in terms of labor rates, cost of energy and facilities and weight against security risks
  • Life Span of Refurbished Data Center. The essential consideration is whether or not the site is large enough to accommodate growth, given the investments required to refurbish and the long term scenarios that the organization has for data center servicing provision. The refurbished site must provide at least five years of capacity (physical, electrical and networking) to make the project worthwhile.
  • Structural Work Needed. New facility components are expensive, but the real problem is in integrating new products in an existing building and with existing components. Companies should focus on the technical problems of integrating new facility components into an existing building, as well as evaluating whether it's possible to keep the data center in action while renovations are carried out.

Additional information is also available in the Gartner report "Q&A: Critical Issues Facing Data Center Managers." The report is available on Gartner's website.

For more information about how CPI can partner with you to make data center improvements, please contact us and ask to speak with one of our data center experts. Kim Ream, Sr. eCommerce Specialist 

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