Power costs put the squeeze on storage


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It costs more to run a storage device over three years than to buy it. Here are several steps you can take to cut, or at least control, spiraling storage energy costs.

Many TCO models are seriously outdated and wildly inaccurate because they haven't been updated to include the increased cost to power and cool storage arrays, SAN switches and hosts.

"Through 2009, energy costs will emerge as the second-highest operating cost in 70% of worldwide data center facilities," declares Michael Bell, research vice president at Stamford, CT-based Gartner Inc., in a recent report. In addition, analysts expect U.S. companies will spend twice as much on power and cooling by 2009 as they did to acquire their IT devices. Today, servers account for 40% of the data center's overall power consumption. Storage isn't far behind, taking 37% of the overall power, says Bell.

Power costs aren't the only factor forcing organizations to rethink their TCO analyses. The cost of end-of-life disposal and emerging green regulations that require cradle-to-grave energy tracking--costs that IT managers previously paid scant attention to--also threaten to become significant factors. Even real estate prices are a factor as IT managers wrestle with packing equipment more densely into costly floor space or spreading it out to facilitate more efficient air flow and cooling.

"Power and floor space are probably our two biggest IT concerns right now," says Michael Thomas,

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special project director at a major Midwest financial organization with multiple data centers. Thomas has had to delay some project implementations while waiting for the electric utility to come up with more power.

While storage prices on a cost-per-gigabyte basis continue to drop, storage managers will find their best budgeting efforts undermined by power, disposal, energy tracking and real estate costs. However, the problem isn't insurmountable. Vendors are ramping up energy- efficient green systems and tools to manage energy usage. By 2011, Gartner's Bell expects power demands to level off or even decline as innovations and best practices combine to contain the problem. In the meantime, IT managers still have to deal with the problem.

This was first published in March 2007

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