Research firm Gartner says there are several pragmatic steps data center managers can take to better control costs – including their energy expenses.

“Energy costs are the fastest-rising element in the data center portfolio, and yet data center managers are still not paying sufficient attention to the process of measuring, monitoring and modeling energy use in data centers,” says Rakesh Kumar, a research vice president with Gartner.

“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 says a critical first step for data center managers is to develop a standardized method for breaking down data center costs, so that actions can be prioritized. Once those costs are understood it offers the following suggestions:

- Rationalize the hardware. This involves taking out those systems that are underutilized or old, or where the workload can be run on more efficient hardware. Gartner says companies taking this route have been able to reduce the number of servers deployed by 5% to 20%.

- Consolidate data center sites. Consolidating multiple sites into a smaller number of larger sites has proven to deliver savings.

- Manage energy and facilities costs. Tools and techniques for managing the energy cost curve include: raising the temperature of the data center to around 24 degrees Celsius; using outside air as an alternative to air conditioning where possible; using hot aisle/cold aisle configurations; and using server-based energy management software tools to run workloads in the most efficient way.

 - Manage the people costs. Salaries and associated staffing costs still form the single largest cost element for most data centers – often as much as 40% of overall costs.

 - Sweat the assets. Delaying the procurement of new assets is a necessary step for all data center managers, especially as a server’s useful life often exceeds its amortized life.



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