Business Hardware

Data Centers Must Go Green, Gartner Warns

Data center managers need to modernize their operations, or risk doubling their energy costs between 2005 and 2011, according to analyst firm Gartner.

Legacy data centers made in the last decade are essentially obsolete in terms of environmentally sustainable IT, according to Gartner. New, high-density, power-hungry equipment warrants more advanced power and cooling capabilities or costs will spiral, Rakesh Kumar, vice-president at Gartner warned.

"If we assume that data center energy costs continue to double every five years, they will have increased 1,600 percent between 2005 and 2025," he said.

But power efficiency alone cannot be the only factor in creating green data centers. Instead, firms must concentrate on factors such as waste management, asset management, technology architecture, capacity management, support services, energy sources and operations.

In this way, data centers. are evolving from being static into conceptual models of "living organisms", driven by power and cooling, where modelling and measuring tools will become major elements of its management, according to Kumar.

Kumar likened the data center to a human heart: "When you are running a marathon, the heart is pounding and needs to be working to 100 percent capacity, but it also needs time to slow down and relax," he said. "Similarly the data center needs to be working to full capacity at times, whilst it must respond to quieter periods too."

The advanced power and cooling facilities that are being installed in new high-density data centers. should reduce energy consumption and cost by using less power, and cooling when not fully required.

Modelling and measuring tools can help further reduce energy consumption, Kumar said.

"[Future data centers. will be dynamic and address a variety of technical, financial and environmental demands, responding quickly to the changing needs to the business."

"In addition, it will need to have some degree of flexibility, to run workloads where energy is cheapest and above all highly available, with 99.999 percent availability."

To build an efficient data center Kumar made six recommendations for managers: chose their location carefully; develop the site modularly; include chillers and high ventilation air conditioning units; introduce alternative energy sources; install monitoring tools; and investigate 'powering down' equipment.

The Symantec Green Data Center Report, released in November 2007, demonstrated that firms struggle to adopt strategic green data center initiatives, with only one in seven reporting success in this type of projects. Respondents to this survey noted that whilst a green data center is important, it must be balanced against business needs.

Kumar agreed with the findings, stating that while companies invest in green data centers. most do not commit themselves 100 percent financially and therefore do not reap the full benefits.

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