November 24, 2009 – Data center and IT managers must find a pragmatic way to deal with the current energy, space and technology problems expected to worsen in 2010, says market research firm Gartner Inc.

Gartner has identified four critical questions that managers should address to overcome the challenges they are likely to face in the coming year:

1. Is there a standardized way to break down my data center costs? To address this question, Gartner recommends creating a chart of accounts that identifies each element contributing to the data center’s overall cost. Instructions for this process are available in the report “Q&A: Critical Issues Facing Data Center Managers.”

2. What are pragmatic ways to cut my data center costs? Analysts at Gartner recommend: rationalizing the hardware, consolidating data center sites, managing facility and people costs, and delaying the procurement of new assets, according to the company release. Listen to this episode of DM Radio, “The Future of Data Centers,” to learn how new chip technology can save big bucks.

3. Should I start measuring the energy efficiency of my data center? Energy management can be effective only through advanced monitoring, modeling and measuring techniques and processes, according to the Gartner release. Metrics are the foundation for internal cost and efficiency programs and Gartner urges data center managers and IT organizations to make this area a high priority.

“Start measuring energy consumption and know where it goes,” says Rakesh Kumar, research vice president at Gartner. 

With energy consumption expected to double every five to seven years, data center managers are not paying sufficient attention to the process of measuring, monitoring and modeling energy use in data centers, Kumar says. “They need to realize that removing a single x86 server from a data center will result in savings of more than $400 a year in energy costs alone.” 

Gartner analysts came to a similar conclusion in a report this fall (“Data Centres Focus on Green, but Many Neglect Metrics”) in which they made several recommendations to maintain an effective green IT strategy, including raising the temperature at the server inlet point to 24 degrees Celsius, but using sensors to monitor potential hotspots.

4. What are the pitfalls of refurbishing my data center? To answer this question, organizations should consider the location of their current data center, the life span of a refurbished data center and its ability to accommodate growth, and what structural work is needed. 

Before making the decision to refurbish the data center organizations must try and free up capacity through consolidation, rationalization and virtualization, Kumar says. “Having taken these steps, if they still need to refurbish their data center, they will face a number of hurdles: cost - it’s expensive to refurbish a data center, and doing it - making structural changes to a building and still providing IT services is very difficult if not stupid. What you end up with may not be physically big enough.”

To read more about issues facing data centers check out Information Management’s Data Center Exchange, a must-read for IT planners, enterprise architects and data center managers. The site covers vendor news and product announcements, technology breakthroughs and deployment trends, and the latest best-management practices that are designed to help CIOs and other IT executives not only survive, but to thrive, in today's fast-paced data center environment.

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