The volume of critical data produced by our digital world continues to grow, increasing the need for businesses to acquire expensive and power-hungry technology to support and run data applications. Organizations are struggling to manage big data and adopt newer applications and technologies while addressing the environmental and financial pressures to operate in an efficient and sustainable way.
As a result, businesses are taking more action to increase efficiency through their data centers. A recent survey of business and government energy leaders commissioned by Schneider Electric found that data center efficiency will be one of the most popular energy management approaches for organizations in the next five years. Organizations also are finding new ways to reduce operational expenses and avoid large capital investments.
Often, businesses look to make improvements in the physical infrastructures within their own data centers to reach these goals. However, many have also begun to consider either co-location or cloud providers that promote energy efficiency and sustainable practices.
There has been some debate on the energy efficiency and cost effectiveness of cloud computing, but the idea that cloud computing is inefficient is a myth. Since the cloud business model relies on high data security and operational efficiency, lean operating principles are often employed to improve financial performance. This has resulted in the cloud being a practical solution for businesses looking to lower their costs, improve their risk profiles, and increase their agility and efficiency, allowing them to delay large capital expenditures.
Moving toward a virtualized environment, whether through virtualization of physical servers or by moving applications into the cloud, helps consolidate systems and reduce overall IT electrical load. It can also shift some capital cost into an operational expense and help businesses realize savings in administration, licensing, maintenance, and reduced downtime.
Managers looking to improve their data center cost and efficiency by transitioning to the cloud can realize several benefits:
- Increased computing efficiency -- Cloud computing often allows for more computing per watt of power consumed by better utilizing applications and servers.
- Manage redundancy -- Applications can run on multiple servers, in multiple locations and shift to another location instantly if there is a problem.
- Financial value to the business -- Cloud computing supports alignment between investment and productivity by helping deliver more options for businesses to access the latest technologies, while reducing the need for large up-front capital expenditures (capex). Assets that would have required a significant capital infusion are now billed as operational expenditures (opex), freeing up funds for other projects that can help drive revenue and growth.
- Rightsized power and cooling systems -- Remaining physical equipment can now be repurposed and sized to meet specific needs, whether it’s critical data that must be managed onsite, or even basic storage backup that doesn’t require stringent uptime targets.
With businesses becoming increasingly reliant on technology for daily operations, new and innovative ways of computing within the datacenter are needed. Data centers must find efficient and sustainable ways to operate, as well as adopt a cost and risk model that fits corporate goals and objectives.
As an alternative to updating physical infrastructure for increased efficiency, cloud computing is a viable method that can help to reduce fixed costs associated with a facility’s power, cooling, and hardware, allowing for greater agility and growth. Data center managers should feel empowered to rightsize their infrastructures and budgets to align costs with processing needs, resulting in a greener, more efficient footprint.Lance Bishop is responsible for Schneider Electric's assessment services and electrical distribution services team focusing on data center efficiency, availability, power distribution, and total cost of ownership. Comprised of professional services architects, this team ... View Full Bio