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Half of all data centres have insufficient power

New Gartner research finds that 50 per cent of data centers will have power and cooling problems by 2008

According to Gartner Research of Stamford, Conn., companies are increasingly deploying more computing power, but, by 2008, 50 per cent of current data centers will have insufficient power and cooling capacity to meet the demands of high-density equipment.

Michael A. Bell, research vice-president for Gartner, said with the advent of high density computer equipment such as blade servers, many data centers have maxed out their power and cooling capacity. It’s now possible to pack racks with equipment requiring 30,000 watts per rack or more in connected load. This compares to only 2,000-3,000 watts per rack a few years ago.

Traditionally the power required for non-IT equipment in the data center (for example, cooling, fans and pumps) represented about 60 per cent of total annual energy consumption. As power requirements continue to grow, energy costs will emerge as the second highest operating cost in 70 per cent of worldwide data center facilities by 2009.

However, a flurry of innovation is under way that will converge during the next three years to substantially mitigate the power/cooling issue.

Bell added that equipment manufacturers are developing more energy-efficient enclosures, processors and cooling solutions. The leading processor manufacturers are battling to produce more energy efficient chipsets. Server manufacturers are employing more-efficient power supplies, heat sinks and power management systems, as well as offering a host of in-rack cooling solutions, supplemented by facility design and assessment services. We’ll see fully integrated management systems that will monitor and manager server workloads and power/cooling demand and optimize capacities in real time.

The Gartner report went on to say that to build an optimized, reliable and efficient facilities environment, Gartner recommends that data center managers take a holistic approach in planning, designing and laying out the data center to optimize power and cooling capacity. This should include looking at all the variables from site location to building type, building systems, rack configuration, equipment deployment, and airflow dynamics must be integrated and optimized.

Bell said the power and cooling challenges will not be a perpetual problem, it is important for data center managers to focus on the electrical and cooling issue in the near team, and adopt these best practices to mitigate the problem before it results in equipment failure, downtime and high remediation costs.