Power costs put the squeeze on storage


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End-of-life disposal challenges

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Systems and storage gear contains hazardous materials. Organizations are legally responsible for how they get rid of old storage devices. End-of-life disposal of systems and storage will eventually fall under regulations like ISO 14000, which is a set of international standards addressing environmental management. It guides organizations in developing both their environmental management system and the corresponding audit program.

  • Understand and include cost of disposal in your TCO analysis
  • Identify all of the costs associated with safe disposal, including eliminating data from hard drives
  • Insist on an audit trail
  • Expect more green regulations in the years ahead
  • Don't try to dodge responsibility; almost every component contains a traceable serial number
  • Don't try to dispose on the cheap; use a reputable operator
  • Don't try to dump overseas; rules are even more stringent in Europe and are quickly being adopted in Asia
  • Don't delay in the hope that green requirements will ease

Unsustainable cost increases
"The ugly secret of smaller, faster, cheaper is that just because we can make it smaller and buy more of it, doesn't mean it is any more energy efficient," says Bob Gill, chief research officer at TheInfoPro Inc. To the contrary, smaller and cheaper means companies are buying more devices and packing them more densely into the data center. Even if the individual devices use less power, the aggregate number drives up energy consumption.

Gartner projects that more than 50% of data centers will exceed 6 kilowatts (kW) per rack within two years; Bell expects that number to rise to 70% to 80% within four years due to the increased density of IT equipment, and that the ratio of power to cooling will hit 1:1. In addition, electrical costs per rack will increase by a factor of four, he calculates. Previously, the ratio was 0.5:1. "The cost is basically unsustainable," concludes Bell.

IT must also begin to factor in costs for getting rid of end-of-life equipment. "Disposal now has to be part of the TCO analysis," says Adam Braunstein, senior research analyst at Robert Frances Group, Westport, CT.

The price tag includes not only the cost of safe disposal but the cost of ensuring that data is effectively removed from disk drives. "A three-times overwrite is Department of Defense compliant, but you need at least a seven-times overwrite to be completely safe and 10 times is even better," says Braunstein.

This was first published in March 2007

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