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Gartner: Data centre energy costs will rise sharply

Energy costs are already a big challenge for data centre managers, and more bad news is on the way.

In the next couple of years, energy costs in data centres will rise massively, said Rakesh Kumar, vice president, Gartner Research, today at the Gartner Data Centre and IT Operations Summit 2011.

In 2010, energy alone accounted for 12% of the cost of running a data centre, third after people (29%) and software (22%). But, this is going to change in the next few years. While hardware (servers and storage devices) costs will go down, energy costs will go up to 20% from the current 12%.

This means energy costs will account for a fifth of the cost of running a data centre.

The reasons for this increase are higher power costs plus more equipment within a data centre.

While energy costs will become a big headache for data centre managers, there are many things users can do to address this issue, Kumar said:

•     Use free-air cooling. Here’s how you can use free-air or natural cooling in the data centre.

•     Reuse heating

•     Scale vertically first, then scale horizontally [Scaling vertically means adding more resources such as memory or CPUs to a single server while scaling horizontally means running an app across multiple servers so that even when a single server fails, the app isn’t affected).

•     Build density zones

•     Consider multi-tiered designs

•     Build/rebuild pods

Specifically, Kumar urged European IT pros to look more strategically at free-air cooling. “Free-air cooling is very important and help enterprises save on energy bills considerably, especially in the UK and other northern countries where temperatures are 16 degrees or below for a majority of the year,” he said.

He also advised users to “play the refresh game more often” because newer servers are more energy efficient.

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