12 June 2009
Gartner outlines seven ways to save data centre costs
In the face of deepening budget cuts, analyst Gartner says IT professionals can easily cut costs in their data centres, using seven key pointers.
"IT managers are expected to deliver an ever-increasing level of service, and many are charged with showing tangible financial savings as part of cost-cutting measures," observes Rakesh Kumar, research vice president at Gartner.
"Significant savings can be made in the data centre. For example, removing a single x86 server will result in savings of more than $400 a year in energy costs alone."
Gartner's seven recommended cost cutting methods are:
1. Rationalise the hardware: that cuts with asset and inventory management and reveals the boxes not in use. Server rationalisation should also lower maintenance and support charges, and Gartner also points out that hardware rationalisation projects usually yield savings of 5—10%.
2. Consolidate data centre sites: Gartner argues that many companies still have multiple data centres and that moving to smaller number of larger sites often results in savings way beyond real estate – such as getting rid of redundant IT assets, software, maintenance and support, and disaster recovery contracts.
3. Manage energy and facilities costs: blade servers consume more energy and, as floor space runs out, more hardware is crammed into the space, hence requiring more cooling. Gartner suggests raising the temperature of the data centre to 24oC and using outside air as an alternative to air conditioning. It also recommends hot aisle/cold aisle configurations, blanking panels and economisers, as well as server-based energy management software.
4. Renegotiate contracts: Gartner reckons that a review will reveal some contracts that need to be terminated and others where new terms and conditions may secure lower payments. It also makes the point that vendors are used to reviewing contracts during downturns.
5. Manage the People Costs: Gartner's advice here is essentially motherhood and apple pie, amounting to a review of both staffing levels and skill types needed for the next 24 months followed by looking to locations like India, Brazil, Poland and Romania where labour rates are lower. Not everyone's cup of tea.
6. Surprise, surprise – sweat the assets because delaying procurement of new assets is now essential. Gartner concedes that this may result in a performance disadvantage and possibly even energy increases, but argues that it also defers capital expense. "Users should negotiate on maintenance and support costs in such instances, as well as ensuring that software is still supported on servers whose working life is being extended," says Kumar.
7. And finally, hardware virtualisation to support consolidation, decommissioning and cost management programmes. Kumar asserts that for most users, the net benefits include a smaller hardware estate, which, in turn, means lower operating depreciation costs and less-expensive maintenance and support.
"Virtualisation is also a good way to control energy costs," he says. "Although it requires license and project costs, users can expect to see net savings within 24 months, and effective use of virtualisation can reduce server energy consumption by 82% and floor space by 86%.
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