It's pretty common to estimate that a data center's power usage runs about 60 percent to 70 percent for cooling and 30 percent to 40 percent for running the machines. While IT can absolutely get involved in attacking the larger chunk of that bill, often it won't; that money is not coming directly out of its budget. Even though pressure to get greener and cut energy costs is heavier every day, this is still a challenge; even direct financial incentives don't seem to be prompting action like you might expect.
But let's put that aside for a moment and look at what IT can do to lower the portion of consumption of energy for servers. The dominant answer: virtualization. Reduced operating costs were a top criteria for virtualization deployment in a 2006 Yankee Group survey. In 2007, it might be even closer to the top of the list, as a recurring bottom-line benefit and environmentally friendly modification.
If reports and blogs from the recent LinuxWorld conference, which was combined with the first Next Generation Data Center Conference and Expo in San Francisco, are any indication, that is indeed the case. Part of the message from the conference was that Linux is still broadly seen as a wise choice for server virtualization, but that because of its licensing structures, Microsoft may come out on top when the metric is virtualization software revenue: An IDC study predicts 36 percent of that revenue will go to Linux by 2011 -- but 52 percent will go to Microsoft.
What could skew those numbers, and determine who controls the market, is which hypervisor becomes the leader, according to InformationWeek. Microsoft is actually sitting relatively pretty here, even though it's been slow to move forward decisively with its virtualization plan; it has a strong relationship in place with Novell and its Xen hypervisor, and its Windows Server 2008 Veridian hypervisor, which is to be released within a year, will be based on that mature technology. Its competition, of course, is VMware and its fast-growing revenue and deep foothold in the new virtualization market. VMware's new focus on desktop virtualization and impressive IPO today probably don't worry Microsoft much, either. Microsoft isn't pursuing the desktop virtualization target and if it takes advantage of this moment in time -- some 5 percent or less of servers use virtualization technology and the race to green up the data center is on -- to market its coming Viridian offering correctly, it can do what it does -- enter the market late, undercut the market leader on price, make it up on volume, and capture a new market even without features that early adopters want and need.
Unless VMware (and EMC) gets there first.