Data Centers Nearing Power-Usage, Cost Crisis

A survey identifies a major issue: old, decommissioned servers that are still running and wasting power. 

A new research study on data center capacity and energy efficiency has found that ever-increasing power and cooling costs are affecting the economics of IT more profoundly than many industry observers had thought.
The study, conducted by the Uptime Institute in Santa Fe, N.M., represented the views of 311 enterprise data center managers. The data was recorded over the last two weeks.
Forty-two percent of respondents indicated that their data centers would run out of power capacity within 12 to 24 months if they did no expansion. Twenty-three percent claimed they would run out of power capacity in 24 to 60 months.
Similarly, 39 percent claimed that their data centers would run out of cooling capacity in 12 to 24 months, and 21 percent claimed they would run out of cooling capacity in 24 to 60 months.
"Unless they have unlimited access to money, senior IT executives can no longer ignore [data center] power and cooling costs," Kenneth G. Brill, executive director of the Uptime Institute and director of the research study, told eWEEK. Brill recently keynoted eWEEK's Data Center Summit in New York City.
"We found confirmation for what we call the 'Economic Breakdown of Moore's Law,'" Brill said. "Basically, the increasing cost for power and cooling are fundamentally and almost invisibly changing the economics of IT."
Virtually every respondent to the survey reported they were running out of power and cooling capacity, Brill said, which has resulted in a boom in data center construction and reconstruction.
"All money going into data center construction is coming out of IT's budget," Brill added.
Every 1U [smallest size] server incurs an annual facility cost of about $1,600 per year, Brill said. Of this, about $700 is for electricity. Since the street price for a volume server is in the $3,000 range, the electricity usage itself over four years will exceed the acquisition cost of the server, Brill said.
"This will occur even faster in high utility rate regions like New York City and the northeast," Brill said. "On a total cost of ownership basis, power and cooling costs will exceed the cost of a server in less than two years. This is a radical change from less than eight years ago, when it took 10 to 15 years for site costs to equal server acquisition costs."

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 10 years and more than 3,500 stories at eWEEK, he has distinguished...