IT analyst Gartner yesterday leant its voice to the growing number of industry experts arguing that IT directors must embrace more environmentally friendly business practices, warning that CIOs need to "wake up to IT's energy crisis".
According to Gartner, environmental concerns are now coupling with soaring energy prices to give businesses a "double incentive to cut carbon emissions". Although, if firms are being honest the environmental concerns are giving them the desire to act, while rising energy prices are actually making them do so.
The situation is compounded by the current vogue for high density rack servers that Gartner estimates require 10 to 15 percent more electricity than traditional server environments, and that's before you account for the increased air conditioning costs required to cool over heating racks. It is easy to forget amidst the flurry of recent stories about new servers with improved energy efficiency that in reality energy demands in most datacentres are increasing.
According to Ranesh Kumar, research vice president at Gartner, this increase in power demand coupled with rising electricity prices means that while energy costs currently account for around 10 percent of a firm's IT budget, they could soon rise to over 50 percent of the total in the next few years.
That is the kind of cost inflation that will give any CEO palpitations and as Kumar observes, "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".
In short, more money spent on energy means less cash to invest in new systems and a bad rep with the board.
However, despite the scale of the problem facing CIOs Gartner is convinced steps can be taken to tackle the problem. On a company level that means prioritising the improvement of server utilisation in order to delay migration to high density, high power systems, while on an industry level it means CIO's using their investment budgets to reward those vendors who are delivering more energy efficient systems - thus encouraging them to spend more of their R&D dollars on improving energy efficiency at the component level.
I am hoping to talk to Gartner in more detail about the practical measures it is recommending firms to take in the next week, so look out for a story in the next issue of IT Week providing more details on what CIOs can do to sidestep the datacentre "energy crisis".
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