A collation of power costs and a spread of IT implications

Sunday 29th June 2008
Google server farm. Courtesy:http://www.anticlockwise.com/

Data centres and the issue of consumption and cooling: power charges overtakes server performance price: retailers make a shabby showing: in the US data centre consumption doubles and Lighthouse offers virtualization Z style

Npower said wholesale energy prices for 2008 had increased from last year by 66% for electricity, and 60% for gas.  According to Capital Economics, a 40% jump in gas and electricity bills would add 1% to the Retail Prices Index measure of inflation, which currently stands at 4.3%.

Some 42% of data centre managers expect to run out of electricity within two years, and 39% say they will exceed cooling capacity within the same period. In March, a survey of 311 data centre managers in the US was conducted by the Uptime Institute showed every respondent reported they were running out of power and cooling capacity, with some expecting to hit current limits earlier than others.

The result is that all data centres will have to spend considerably more money on electricity to power and cool equipment in the future, with ongoing power and cooling costs set to exceed server purchase price for the first time in less than two years, according to the survey.

CPU and server manufacturers are looking to build computers that use less power, and data centre managers can help by decommissioning older, power-hungry servers which are only partially utilised and consolidating their workloads elsewhere. Companies can also help reduce energy bills by switching to thin client devices in their infrastructure.

Separate research commissioned by thin client vendor IGEL Technology and conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute last year estimated that thin clients use up to 50% less power than desktop PCs – between 40-50 watts (including the server) compared to 85 watts on average. IDC figures then suggested thin clients represented 10%  of new PCs shipped in Western Europe in 2007, saving166,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions (including or excluding freight emissions?)

Kwh charges  to overtake server footprint/performance prices

Data storage and server farms are looking at how  rising energy costs will affect their business.  There was a time when server and storage spend was two-thirds of costs, now one-third is IT costs and two-thirds is power and operations. Datacentre providers starting to price by kilowatt hour have seen prices rise by 30% over the past month.

 And that is forcing a rethink of IT strategies, as energy costs look set to drive the the business agenda. Electricity costs are usually part of the facilities budget.  But if this moved from  facilities to IT, it is likely to shock people as to the  true cost of IT. While staff can be encouraged to economise on power, the IT infrastructure itself in general takes years to change so there is no quick solution.

Customers could face being charged for datacentre services by kw/hrs. While energy savings through developments  such as virtualisation improve performance, these can also be offset by greater cooling needed for consolidated servers. And even software as a service will also feel the impact of surging energy prices, when costs of running power-hungry datacentres are increasingly passed directly to customers.

Retail shows  shabby data centre performance

On average, top UK retailers are overspending by £1.25 million a year on the power needed to run their data centres which can equate to 50% of total data centre costs and 10 per cent of their total energy bills.  These shock findings are revealed in new research commissioned by data centre infrastructure specialist RichardsoNEyres which also shows that 83% of the UK’s top retailers are making rising energy prices and wasted costs a top priority for 2008/9.

The research, undertaken in association with industry analysts IDL, profiled organisations from the UK’s top 100 retailers to highlight the main data centre challenges they are facing.  The study found that IT capacity management has not kept pace with the growth in data due to online sales, new store openings and the expansion of CRM and ERP.  For 60% of study respondents, data centre capacity was a priority area for improvement during this year and this trend is likely to increase.

It was also revealed that the impact of data centre management has broader implications.  For example, the survey revealed that improving productivity of data centre staff was a priority, as legacy system environments can consume 25 per cent more of IT staff time and often requires specialised staff. 66 per cent of respondents suggested that improving the productivity of staff was important. 
Right: Focus away from shop fronts to data centres: Courtesy:http://lh4.ggpht.com

Another crucial implication of an ageing data centre infrastructure is its impact on being able to meet new business standards.  Many retailers have yet to implement a robust business continuity and disaster recovery process such as required in the recently launched British Standard BS 25999-2, due to the complexity of the existing data centre infrastructure.  To successfully meet the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System standard, retailers will need to conduct a data centre power and emissions review.  Respondents admit that they currently take an informal approach to environmental management procedures, but almost one third acknowledge that adopting this standard is high on their company’s agenda.

“Spiralling energy costs and the need to demonstrate good Corporate Social Responsibility means that retailers need their IT infrastructure to catch-up with the best practice demonstrated elsewhere in British industry” said Adam Kemp, Director, RichardsoNEyres.

He continued: “There are many simple, yet effect steps retailers can take to make their data centres run more efficiently. For example, applying virtualisation to the data centre can reduce energy consumption by up to 50%.”Source

US Data centre consumption doubles from 2000-2005
The energy consumed by data center servers, cooling equipment, and related infrastructure more than doubled in the United States and worldwide between 2000 and 2005, according to a new study.

A jump in the number of servers--especially lower-end servers costing less than $25,000--accounts for 90% of the additional power consumption, says the study's author, Jonathan Koomey, a consulting professor at Stanford University and a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The study was commissioned by Advanced Micro Devices, which is touting its energy-efficient processors. Only 5% to 8% of the increase in data center electricity consumption is attributed to power use per unit. Driving the server proliferation is the insatiable appetite for Web content, such as video on demand, music downloads, and Internet telephony, Koomey says.

The total electricity bill to operate data center servers and related infrastructure equipment in the United States was $2.7bn in 2005, compared with $1.3bn  in 2000. Worldwide, the total bill was $7.2 bn in 2005, compared with $3.2 bn in 2000. Looked at differently, U.S. data center power consumption in 2005 was equivalent to about five 1,000- megawatt power plants, or five typical nuclear or coal power plants, Koomey says.

Virtualisation supports Green initiative with a rattle of Z's
(Courtesy: www.decision.ie)
VKernel has a partnership with Lighthouse Virtualization Group. Under the agreement, Lighthouse becomes a VKernel Gold Partner that will resell VKernel's Suite of Virtual Appliances for analysing and monitoring capacity, implementing chargeback, and gaining cost visibility in VMware ESX environments and build services to support its "Green IT" initiative.

"As organisations continue to virtualise their data centers, they need visibility into resource utilisation to properly plan their virtual infra- structures, ensure optimal performance, and enable IT to have an accurate cost of each virtual machine," said Alex Bakman, founder and CEO of VKernel.

"Our solutions are a great fit for Lighthouse as they rapidly address critical issues within the virtual data center to deliver instantaneous value and benefits to Lighthouse and its customer base."

The VKernel Virtual Appliance Suite for Systems Management is a set of "plug-and-play" virtual appliances designed to address real world systems management challenges as organisations migrate to VMware virtual environments. VKernel products enable IT groups to solve today's critical pain points by providing visibility into the capacity and resource consumption of each virtual machine.

VKernel is currently offering a Chargeback Virtual Appliance for gaining cost visibility and implementing chargeback, and a Capacity Bottleneck Analyzer Virtual Appliance for identifying and eliminating capacity bottlenecks.

"Lighthouse differentiates itself by understanding the impact that virtualisation has on an organization's entire environment. By not addressing the organisation as a whole, the cost savings inherent to a virtualisation strategy will not be recognised. Operational readiness which encompasses the processes and procedures that a company needs to address prior to virtualising needs to be considered," said Peter Heigis, managing partner for the Lighthouse Virtualization Group.

"VKernel completes the Virtualization Methodology Lifecycle and enables companies to proactively address the management challenges to ensure that capacity planning in the virtual world does not meet the same fate as seen in the physical world of over procurement and underutilisation."

Virtual Infrastructure provides business benefits such as server consolidation, creating significant up-front and on-going savings, potentially eliminating the need to buy additional server hardware as well as costly add- ons such as SAN connections and air conditioning units. Lighthouse can assist organisations to significantly reduce the number of servers which has a powerful, positive impact on electricity costs, and minimize the data center space needed to house servers.

Sources: www.computing.co.uk
Source: http://www.techcentral.ie/
Source: http://www.pressemeldungen.at
Web: http://www.lighthousecs.com/

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