How to save costs in the Data Centre
With energy costs still on the up, the cost of doing everyday business is skyrocketing, and companies are looking to cut costs in any way they can.
“Depending what industry you’re in, the IT assets of your organisation represent between 2 and 10% of your energy consumption,” explains Christopher Mines, senior vice president at Forrester Research.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Datacentres consumed a total of 61 billion kilowatt hours in 2006 - 1.5% of total U.S. energy consumption - and is expected to grow to 100 billion by 2011. Gartner Research considers the EPA’s figures to be conservative due to the growth of high-volume, high-density servers and puts future energy consumption at 10 to 15% higher.
So it’s no surprise that when companies hunt for ways to save money, the first thing they examine is the energy bill of their Datacentres.
There are various ways to cut costs in the Datacentre such as increasing overall efficiency, consolidation, virtualisation, and standardisation. Businesses can choose to use one or several of these methods in varying degrees and obtain significant results. In addition, the social push to “green” the Datacentre has greatly added to more opportunities to reduce costs.
“Today, you’re always hearing about Fortune 50, even Fortune 20, kicking off broad corporate-wide environmental initiatives. They’re doing this to be good citizens. They’re doing this too because there are often personal commitments and passion on the part of the executives of these firms, but they would also not be doing this unless it was good economics, good for the bottom line, and good for the shareholders of these corporations,” says Mines.
Top areas that can offer considerable cost savings include system consolidation, intelligent consumption, well-managed storage, investment in energy-efficient infrastructure and Datacentre consolidation. About 10% of servers in your typical Datacentre are sitting around doing nothing. Even worse backups and full maintenance are being performed on these systems as well as the cost of full licensing. If you shut them down then you don't have to pay for them anymore.
Routinely, organisations are led to believe that in order to reduce costs, they must first invest in energy-efficient technologies, but according to a number of experts, this just isn’t true. “Despite what you’ll hear from all the system vendors, we think there is as much to be gained by optimising your existing equipment before necessarily swapping it out,” says Mines.
Enabling PC and server power management is an idea whose time has come. People are looking at consolidation, virtualisation, and heating and cooling, but power management is the ‘quickest hit’ when it comes to cost savings. Even when a server is idle, it’s using up to 70% of its power just sitting there. That’s a really big opportunity for energy savings. If you look at 500 servers in a Datacentre and they’re idle half the time and you could turn them off during this time, you could make a substantial saving every year.
Reducing server energy consumption is only a fraction of the cost savings, though. For every watt that you can eliminate in equipment, it multiplies the effect of up to two times for other power you don’t need to consume (heating, cooling, etc.). If you can reduce IT equipment wattage, you can really reduce overall power consumption.
In order to keep costs controlled, it's important to regularly audit resources within the Datacentre. When services and applications don’t require system capacity, consider moving them to a virtual machine. Storage utilisation is another key resource to monitor for inefficiency. Many Datacentres are at a 30 to 40% overall utilisation of all the spinning disks in the Datacentre. They don’t have terabytes anymore they have petabytes, and many Datacentre managers just lose track of what’s out there and who is using it. This is due to purchasing storage space for a project when the budget is available. Although the storage space is available and allocated to a particular project, it never gets used.
Eliminating and consolidating equipment in the Datacentre should be performed with the utmost care and understanding of the dependencies. Shutting down a legacy system may impact a number of other applications within your organisation. To prevent unintentional downtime, at the top of Mine’s list for reducing costs in the Data Centre is to have a written plan that defines your goals and sets expectations.
It's also worth noting that nontechnical issues can have a huge impact on the bottom line, such as retaining key personnel and performing basic cleaning practices.
Steps to Cost Savings in the Datacentre
|Develop a plan & set expectations.|
|Create a baseline and know your current costs.|
|Go for 'quick wins' so implement fast and easy cost-saving solutions first.|
|Communicate action and get everyone on board to build accountability.|
How SMEs can improve operations in the Datacentre
|Eliminate unused equipment.|
|Adopt energy-efficient infrastructure.|
|Plan for a realistic reduction of energy use in enterprise storage systems.|
|Enable power management within the datacentre for all applications, servers and equipment for networking and storage.|