Green IT gaining power

Small changes reap big savings

Green IT may be seen as a marketing tool rather than a money maker, but experts from Australia's biggest data centres have found big savings in carbon conscious technology.

IT managers can instantly cut down data centre bills and still avoid giving the CEO a million-dollar heart attack by following simple best practice techniques and configurations, according to the director of Queensland-based data centre operator PIPE Networks Bevan Slattery.

"Power is easily the highest expense in data centres, followed closely by cooling," Slattery said.

Slattery estimates that, on average, power accounts for 40 percent of data centre expenses, while cooling chews up about 30 percent.

The sting will only get worse if figures in Telstra's latest environment report are believed that suggest a whopping 40 percent increase in the demand for electricity by 2020.

"At the end of the day there's not a great deal you can do about the cost of power and cooling, except to buy the most efficient UPSs and condensers, and minimise heat flow into the data centre," Slattery said.

"The biggest efficiency gains you often get is in air conditioners - some have a 20 percent better efficiency rating than comparable models, which is a huge saving in a data centre that runs off 4MW."

IT managers who want to reel in power costs, but don't fancy their chances of getting the boss to sign off on a series of Pillar UPSs and a fleet of solar panels, should look to virtualisation to nip and tuck server utilisation.

Get it right, Slattery says, and you can save 50 percent of server power costs. Get it wrong and you are entering dangerous waters, where availability sinks and power consumption balloons.

He said virtualisation often goes awry when IT managers create a new server instance for each application, chewing up memory. Botched virtual servers can require three times as much hardware just to keep them operational.

PIPE uses virtualisation on all its internal servers, and recently reduced 20 Dell Quad servers into just two, which use about half the power.

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Darren Pauli

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