• 01/22/2013
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Why Your Data Center Costs Will Drop

Here's how to take advantage of the latest technologies to boost server efficiency as well as performance.
This stunning shift is likely to continue for several reasons. Power and cooling costs continue to be a significant proportion of overall server operating costs. Most companies now assess power efficiency when evaluating which server to buy. Server manufacturers can differentiate themselves by improving power efficiency. Furthermore, there's a proliferation of appliances or "engineering stacks" that pull significantly better performance from conventional technology within a given power footprint.

A key underlying reason for increases in compute efficiency is the fact that chipset technologies are increasingly driven by the requirements for consumer mobile devices. One of the most important requirements of the consumer market is improved battery life, which also places a premium on energy-efficient processors. Chip (and power efficiency) advances and designs in the consumer market will flow back into the corporate (server) market. An excellent example is HP's Project Moonshot, which leverages ARM chips, typically used only in consumer devices previously. Expect this power efficiency trend to continue for the next five and possibly the next 10 years.

impact chart

So how does this propitious trend impact the typical IT shop? For one thing, it reduces the need to build another data center. If you have some buffer room now in your data center and you can move most of your server estate to a private cloud (virtualized, heavily standardized, automated), then you will deliver more compute power with the same number or fewer servers (blue line). You'll see a similar trend in the power consumed (green line).

This analysis assumes 5% to 10% business growth, (translating to a need for a 15% to 20% increase in server performance/capacity). You'll have to employ best practices in capacity and performance management to get the most from your server and storage pools, but the long-term payoff is big. If you don't leverage these technologies and approaches, your future is the red and purple lines on the chart: ever-rising compute and data center costs over the coming years.

By applying these approaches, you can do more than stem the compute cost tide; you can turn it. Have you started this journey? Have you been able to reduce the total number of servers in your environment? Are you able to meet your current and future business needs and growth within your current data center footprint?

What changes or additions to this approach would you make? Drop me a note in the comments or email address below.


re: Why Your Data Center Costs Will Drop

Hi Jim,

Good post. It's impressive to see the efficiency gains in servers. However, the move to a private cloud is going to come with significant costs, both in new equipment and software (given all the orchestration required to build a true private cloud) as well as training. Any suggestions for how to work with a CIO and CFO to get them to sign on to the upfront costs of private cloud to get long-term savings?

Drew Conry-Murray
Editor, Network Computing

re: Why Your Data Center Costs Will Drop

I agree w/ you, Jim, and I'm happy to see that processor manufactures are finally starting to focus on not just performance, but also drastically improving the efficiency of the entire platform. The problem as I see it, however, is that there's still a significant problem with VM Sprawl, which if not effectively managed, results in a significant waste of those precious resources, and typically leads to additional hardware purchases. IT shops don't just need more efficiency, but also more visibility.

I have more on the subject here: http://info.cloudboltsoftware....