Data centers are increasingly coming under scrutiny because of the high economic and environmental costs associated with maintaining them. Over the past five years alone, data centers have doubled the amount of energy they consume, and a recent report issued by the EPA projects this consumption rate to grow to 2.5 percent of the nation’s total energy usage by 2012.

The environmental impact of maintaining a data center is stunning. A single rack of storage enclosures using 10kW generates as much carbon dioxide as six 1999 Chevy Tahoe SUVs in one year (about 60 tons). Most storage systems, which are composed of anywhere from dozens to hundreds of disks that are always on regardless of the need to retrieve data, represent the equivalent of an SUV perpetually idling in the garage on the off chance the owner might want to take a drive.

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