Even AC (alternating current)-powered datacenters can benefit from thinking smarter. One unnecessary draw on power comes from power supplies designed to handle much larger loads than the ones they are currently shouldering, says Chris Calwell, an analyst at Ecos Consulting. He says it’s not at all uncommon for a server that draws 150 watts to be fitted with a 300-watt power supply. Then, in the interest of redundancy, the IT manager will add a second 300-watt power supply and share the load. Companies could save plenty just by making power supplies more efficient, he says.
Last, there’s the option of setting up new datacenters, or relocating large chunks of existing ones, in regions where power is cheap, a strategy 365 Main’s Kelley advocates to many of his customers.
“Some people come to the table saying, ‘My million-dollar power bill is too expensive,’ ” he says. “And we say, ‘Diversify to Phoenix because power is a third of the cost of power in New York.’ In that same breath we say, ‘Plus, you are now mitigating risk by diversifying the back end.’ ”
Whatever route customers take, the days when they can afford to ignore the problems of powering and cooling their datacenters are over. Not long ago, IT managers’ performance was measured by the availability and reliability of the machines they maintained. Their job was to ensure the IT requirements of their organization were met without interruption, and they were given broad leeway in how they made that happen. No more. At the rate things are moving, some datacenters will need more than 20 megawatts, enough to power a town of 25,000 homes.
“If there are any CIOs or senior VPs of datacenter operations that haven’t had the lightbulb go on around power issues, it can’t be far behind,” Aperture’s Clifford says. “The concern is that, left unregulated, the consumption of power by datacenters in America is going to be an issue that will impact the gross national product.”