A Practical Approach to Containing IT Energy Costs

Michael Vizard

When it comes to saving money on IT energy costs, a little awareness can go a long way.

That's the fundamental message that Neil Rasmussen, chief innovation officer for APC by Schneider Electric, delivered today during a speech at the Uptime Institute's IT Symposium 2010 conference in New York.

Rather than trying to implement complex power-management systems, Rasmussen stressed that IT organizations should just start making some "back of the envelope" calculations concerning how much total power a "unit of server" computing costs and the related amount of carbon generated by it.

Rasmussen defined a server unit as not only the amount of energy consumed by the server, but also the equipment associated with that server, including storage, networks, power supplies and most importantly, cooling.

To help generate those numbers, APC has developed a set of Web-based tools that IT organizations can use to calculate these numbers. But IT organizations can estimate pretty closely by just counting servers.

The real issue, says Rasmussen, is that most people in a company have no idea how much energy their server applications consume. But once they do, behavior will start to change.


Using energy consumption scorecards could help reduce IT energy consumption by 30 to 80 percent a year, reducing carbon emissions by 150 million tons, he said.

Rasmussen invited companies in the New York and New England area to test some of these concepts. As the old saying goes, things measured are things done, or in this case, things measured turn out to be money not spent. Unfortunately, recent surveys also show that over half of IT organizations fail to take energy costs into consideration when factoring the real total cost of enterprise computing.

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