Companies are taking a number of steps to improve data center efficiency, especially related to airflow containment, increased inlet air temperature on servers, and increased monitoring of cooling. This is a positive trend in terms of cost, efficacy, and enhanced consciousness of the industry overall. These improvements can typically be accomplished inexpensively and with current staff resources.
The graphic below from the Uptime Institute 2012 Data Center Industry Survey outlines the steps large organizations (data centers managing over 2,000 servers) are taking to improve data center efficiency. These large organizations have the resources and financial incentives to wring the most effectiveness out of their data center infrastructures.
IT operations staff can drive exponential improvements in data center efficiency and effectiveness. IT organizations that will benefit most are those that take a systematic approach, starting at the application and data layers: consolidating applications and servers, de-duplicating data, removing comatose but power-draining servers, building redundancy into the applications and IT architecture rather than physical systems, improving server utilization; these initiatives will result in the most significant efficiency gains and drive the next wave of energy-efficiency innovation. But today, according to the 2012 survey data, only 20% of organizations’ IT departments pay the data center power bill.
Uptime Institute conservatively estimated up to 10% of enterprise servers are running obsolete or unused software, have no function at all, yet remain in operation. Decommissioning a single 1U rack server can result in $500 per year in energy savings, an additional $500 in operating system licenses, and $1,500 in hardware maintenance costs. But it takes hard work to identify comatose servers and many organizations do not go through the effort.