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Fri 6 Oct 2006 08:00 PM

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Gartner urges CIOs to go green

Adopt eco-friendly approach to beat energy crisis in IT

CIOs need to wake up to the growing energy crisis in IT and start developing ‘greener’ approaches to IT practices, analyst firm Gartner has warned.

In the past 12 months, there has been a big increase in the deployment of high-density servers, which is leading to significant problems in power and cooling for data centres, according to Rakesh Kumar, research vice president at Gartner.

Over half of Gartner’s clients were having some kind of problem with their data centres, said Kumar, which meant that they would have to either reengineer the facilities on a data centre, build new data centres or go to hosting companies.

“This is certainly true in the US and Western Europe. It’s not quite as bad in the Middle East but there are slightly different problems there because the data centres that were built were built to slightly higher capacity because of the heat, but they are having volume problems — they didn’t build them fast enough,” Kumar told IT Weekly.

Energy costs are also rising and are set to shoot up over the next few years, Kumar predicted. He anticipated energy costs will rise to more than 50% of an overall IT budget in the next few years, up from an average of less than 10% at present.

“The bottom line is that the cost of power on this scale would be difficult to manage simply as a budget increase and most CIOs would struggle to justify the situation to company board members,” Kumar stated.

Energy costs could be a particular problem in the Middle East, he added. “I think the Middle East will be higher than the average because of the volume expansion in geographies such as Dubai and Jordan.”

“There is a lot of technology going in and that means the volume is going up, also because the natural temperatures are high, the air conditioning and chilled water systems are going to be that much more powerful,” Kumar said.

Another problem affecting the Middle East is secondary data centres, according to Kumar. “Most data systems would need to have some kind of back-up, a secondary data centre. In mainland Europe, we can use a backup centre that could be in a cooler or cheaper location. In the Middle East, wherever you put a secondary data system it will be built to the same specification as the primary one.”

“For a lot of people in Europe, their second data centre may be 75% of the cost of their primary data centre so you have added cost in the Middle East,” he added.

The energy crisis in the Middle East is exacerbated by a lack of legislation, Kumar commented. Whereas legislation that will penalise organisations with large data centres that do not put measures in place to better manage waste energy is imminent in both the European Union and North America, there is no indication of similar legislation on the horizon here in the Middle East, he noted.

Kumar’s advice for CIOs is to focus on improving the utilisation of existing equipment to delay moves towards high-density systems. “If you can avoid moving to high-density server technology, do so,” he said.

In the long-term, IT organisations need to take a more considered approach to data centre planning, ensuring that data centres are built in a modular way so that power consumption can be scaled with growth, he added.

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