Seven Steps for Cutting Data Center Costs

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Seven Steps for Cutting Data Center Costs

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1. Rationalize the Hardware

Server rationalization projects can save 5 to 10 percent of overall hardware costs, according to Gartner. Businesses get a good idea of what servers they have and how they're being used, and can often reduce maintenance and support charges. In addition, server rationalization can cut energy costs. For example, a company can save more than $400 per server per year in energy costs.

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2. Consolidate the Data Centers

This includes everything, from the largest, most complex data centers to the smallest systems room. Consolidation projects can save 5 to 15 percent of the overall data center budget, Gartner says. The savings come not only in real estate, but also in the cutting of redundant IT assets and reducing software, maintenance and support, and disaster recovery contracts. In addition, consolidation projects can lead to the need for smaller IT staffs, but Gartner recommends retraining these employees rather than cutting them.

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3. Manage Energy and Facilities Costs

The increasing use of such products as blade servers and the rising density in data centers are contributing to higher energy bills. Gartner recommends raising the temperature of data centers to 75 degrees to lower cooling demands, using outside air rather than expensive air conditioners, using hot aisle-cold aisle configurations, blanking panels and economizers to drive down power consumption, and taking advantage of hardware-based energy management software offered by system makers.

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4. Renegotiate Contracts

In difficult economic times, vendors are used to reviewing contracts, Gartner says. So data center managers, along with finance and procurement teams, should review all hardware, lease, software, maintenance and support contracts to see what can be cut or renegotiated for better deals.

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5. Manage the Cost of People

People don't come cheap and can account for as much as 40 percent of overall data center costs, according to Gartner. So businesses should take a hard look at what they have in their staffs and what they'll need over the next two years-and consider finding skilled workers in places such as India, Brazil, Poland and Romania, which offer cheaper labor.

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6. Sweat the Assets

Businesses that delay buying new systems risk performance disadvantages and possibly higher energy costs. However, particularly in difficult economic times, those might be worth the trade-off to avoid having to deal with the capital expense of buying new assets, Gartner says. Businesses will want to negotiate maintenance and support costs, and ensure that software will continue to be supported on older hardware that is still in use.

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7. Use Virtualization Technology

The cost savings gained by using server and storage virtualization are impressive. Though virtualization projects often mean license and project costs, within two years businesses can see reduced server energy consumption by as much as 82 percent and floor space savings of up to 86 percent. Virtualization improves operational efficiency, supports consolidation projects, and can help with hardware decommissioning and cost management initiatives. The results can be less hardware, lower operating depreciation costs, less expensive maintenance and support, and smaller energy bills.