May 08, 2007

The Data Center Energy Crisis

Welcome to The Raised Floor blog, a group-authored discussion about today's and tomorrow's data centers. Please share your comments and come back often.

As I talk to customers around the world about their data centers it's obvious they're in crisis and in many cases are not really sure what to do.

This crisis appears to be a mismatch between requirements and capabilities. Let me give you some examples that reflect the trends I've seen from reading a number of the consulting studies over the last few years.

On the requirements side, to meet application demands and the regulatory requirements (Sarbanes Oxley, HIPAA, Basel II) customers are installing more and more technology. Over the last 10 years, one estimate is that the server install base has grown by 6X and the storage install base has grown by 69X (UPDATE: See correction below.)

If these numbers are close to being true, then data centers must be having problems trying to keep up with demand.

In my view, this demand on the data center has three flavors:

Technology demands - How do I install new dense technologies like Blade Servers in a data center that was never designed to support them? Technologies like blade servers are inexpensive, flexible, scalable and generally significantly more energy and cooling efficient than their predecessors. So expect to continue to see demand for these technologies skyrocket.

Demands for increased energy use - How do I get enough power and cooling to support my technology needs into my data center? Growth rates like those mentioned previously are putting huge pressures on the existing data center infrastructures that were built a number of years ago. One estimate is that more than 80% of current data centers were built prior to 2001. Gartner just published an opinion that any data center more than five years old is obsolete.

Demands for increased expense - Take the growth curve for servers and storage and turn it into a growth curve for energy use, and then multiply this logarithmic increase in energy use with increasing energy cost. I don't know about your location, but the cost of energy has been growing at double-digit rates where I live. The impact on IT expense is significant. Power may now be 30-40% of the IT operations budget, if energy is actually charged out to users based on real costs.

If these demands appear to reflect your data center environment, then what should we all be doing?

CORRECTION: The projected 6x growth in servers and 69x growth in storage is expected to occur between the years 2000 and 2010.

by Steve Sams May 8, 2007 in Assessments, Design, Energy Efficiency, Power & Cooling, Services, SysAdmins, Virtualization, Who's Who


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Works fine for me.
Unless the problem was solved in between.

Oh, and good luck with your new blog !

Posted by: Marc Wambeke | May 11, 2007 2:41:08 AM

Little correction : urls at the bottom work fine. Not so the links in the categories at the right side of the screen

Posted by: Marc Wambeke | May 11, 2007 2:43:38 AM

Thank you for bringing such nice posts.

Posted by: John | Jul 2, 2007 2:26:06 AM

I am so glad I found this blog. I want to share my insights. During the year I see 100's of IT professionals who tell me their data centers are running out of cooling, power, UPS capacity before space. There are ways to mitigate the "Data Center Crisis". Centralization helps along with virtualization. The mainframe used properly can significantly reduce power demands along with cooling requirements.


Posted by: David F. Anderson PE | Jul 3, 2007 2:15:00 PM


Great blog. Its relatively new territory to me but I am working on the ANSI approved service management body of knowledge (SMBOK) used as the basis for credentials for IT service management professionals. Do you have time to talk to offer suggestions on how best to integrate the 'green' factor into our curriculum/s? We are a non-profit, US based organization and we are certainly looking for keynotes on this topic as we work out how to integrate 'green' and service management "best practices".!

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Holmes J. Gormerley Jr

Posted by: Holmes | Feb 20, 2008 2:43:59 PM

Hi Everyone,
I'm very new to this topic and would like to ask what may seem like a stupid question!
I work for a large organization and we have just had raised flooring installed. NOT by a professional company but by the organizations own engineering section. I have noticed that the pedestals were installed without any adhesive or mechanical fixings. My question is: Is this normal? Will this cause saftey problems later ? Any advise would be appreciated.

Posted by: Brian | Jul 21, 2008 11:22:10 AM

I think we should turn our data systems into greener, more energy-efficient ones - ones that have the same performance, but consume less energy. With that solution, we can maintain the flow of our data services without having problems with our energy costs.

Posted by: Mac Pherson | Oct 19, 2011 5:34:05 PM

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