The IT Power Conundrum

Michael Vizard

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Right now many IT organizations are hampered not so much by their budget as they are by their ability to access power.

In ideal world, many of them would be taking advantage of next-generation servers and related IT infrastructure that can quadruple processing capabilities while reducing power consumption by two-thirds or more. The problem is that most IT organizations don't control the power budget in their organization, so saving money on power consumption isn't a factor when it comes to IT spending.


In fact, more than half of IT organizations have no data about what the cost of power really is as it applies to IT, says Rob Taylor, vice president of data center services for Hewlett-Packard's Enterprise Services division. A recent survey conducted by Avanade found similar results, even though 25 percent of the executives surveyed said the power consumption by IT was one of their top three costs.

The electric bill in most companies is controlled by the facilities department. There's been a lot of tension between IT groups and facilities groups as IT demanded more power, while facilities bore the brunt of the cost.

In fact, industry analysts estimate that data centers account for somewhere between 1 to 2 percent of all the energy consumed in the United States.

What's obviously needed is rapprochement between the IT department and the facilities department in the name of the greater good. Installing new more energy-efficient systems not only increases raw performance, they can also forestall the need to build entire new data centers just to find a way to access lower-cost sources of power.

Application workloads, of course, will continue to grow, So at some point, most IT organizations need to find more energy-efficient approaches for the data center, especially in a world where energy efficiency requires more than just lip service. For some, that may mean relying more on cloud computing services to gain access to next-generation servers, while others will build their own private clouds that allow more applications to share fewer servers.

There is something for everybody when upgrading to new systems that in many cases, when properly viewed from the perspective of their total cost of ownership, can pretty much pay for themselves in a matter of months.

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