Can Data Centre Costs Be Driven Any Lower?

Cost reduction is a constant catchcry for most data centres. But is it possible to reduce our spending any further?

Data centre picture from Shutterstock

Figures presented at the Gartner IT Infrastructure Operations & Data Center Summit, which I’m covering this week as part of our World Of Servers series, provide a sobering reminder of how little IT budgets have changed. $1 of available IT budget in 2003 has only increased to $1.04 in 2013, but that doesn’t stop the calls for further reduction. And with data centre costs accounting for 70 per cent of IT expenditure in larger organisations, it’s not surprising data centre managers often feel the pressure to reduce costs, even with that effectively unchanged spend.

A panel discussing cost optimisation at the conference agreed this focus was short-sighted. “There is too much of a tendency to lean towards the cost side of it and focus on value,” said Angus MacDonald, CTO for Oracle ANZ.

Since the pressure continues, what can be down about it? One easy step is to more efficiently measure current data centre costs. “Measurement of resources such as power is still very basic,” said Olaf Moon, Schneider Electric ACT territory manager.

“The elephant sitting in the room is power costs in two and five years time. But now’s the time to think about it, because you can’t build a data centre overnight. But if you’re in a legacy data centre or one in a tower block, get out of it now. It’s not going to be efficient.”

In some centres, small changes can make a big difference. Moon gave the example of a Sydney data centre which raised its temperature by one degree, having determined the equipment could handle this. That change saved $183,000 a year.

Lifehacker’s World Of Servers sees me travelling to conferences around Australia and around the globe in search of fresh insights into how server and infrastructure deployment is changing in the cloud era. This week, I’m in Sydney for the Gartner Infrastructure, Operations & Data Center Summit, looking for practical guidance on developing and managing your IT infrastructure and using virtualisation effectively.

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