Over the past few years, the issue of power and cooling costs for data centers has moved from being an afterthought to the forefront in the minds of IT administrators.
Businesses are seeing as much as half of their IT budgets being spent to keep the facilities powered, cooled and lit, according to Duncan Campbell, vice president of worldwide marketing for Hewlett-Packard's Adaptive Infrastructure business, and that ratio is not improving, thanks to greater density in the data center and the rising cost of energy.
"It's a big number ... and it's growing," Campbell said in an interview.
The drive to reduce power and cooling costs-fueled both by internal needs and by pressure from the federal government, which is looking to reduce the country's reliance on fossil fuels and promote green energy-is giving rise to business efforts within IT vendors such as HP to help enterprises design more ecofriendly data centers.
"Sometimes people are extending the life of their current data centers, and other times we're helping them build their next-generation data center," Campbell said. "The incentive to attack [these power costs] is very much driven by how much [of the] budget is being spent on them."
Campbell and HP Enterprise Services Fellow Ed Kettler, a green IT strategist (HP Enterprise Services was formerly HP's EDS services business), recently pointed to four examples of businesses using technology to make their new or existing data centers greener. Two of these facilities belong to HP customers, while the other two HP adopted when it bought EDS in 2008 for $13.9 billion.
Power Loft, which builds facilities that other businesses use to house their data centers, is using a two-story solution in building a 220,000-square-foot facility in McLean, Va. The two-story model-recommended by HP Critical Facilities Service and delivered by EYP MCF-segregates the power and cooling infrastructure from the raised-floor environment, a move that lets Power Loft scale out the IT environment while optimizing the flow of energy and cooling to the equipment, Campbell said.
The result is that the facility can accommodate 50 percent more racks and twice the power capacity of comparable Tier 3 data centers, and also uses 70 percent less critical power. The design will save Power Loft $10.5 million in annual electric costs, with projected savings of $350,000 per megawatt of critical power, he said.
Those benefits garnered the data center the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Managed hosting provider Opus Interactive is upgrading its IT environment with HP's ProLiant G6 servers-including blade systems-and LeftHand P4000 SAN (storage area network), as well as server virtualization technology from VMware, to improve the capacity of its Portland, Ore., data center.
The result is that Opus Interactive can host 29 times more servers per rack-about 1,200 virtual servers per rack-while cutting power consumption in half, Campbell said.
Opus also is using 100 percent wind-generated power supplied by Portland General Electric, and has installed motion sensor lighting to help reduce consumption, he said.