Green IT: More Than Power Efficiency

With energy efficiency being just the beginning of how data centers can become more environmentally responsible, Gartner ( suggests data center managers look to nature for direction.

"The Concept of the Data center as a Living Organism" is one of the topics the IT research and consulting firm's researchers discussed at last month's Data Center Summit 2008 in Amsterdam. "Power and cooling will drive the evolution of data centers into becoming conceptual models of intelligent 'living organisms' as organisations need to improve energy efficiency and become 'greener,'" according to a Gartner research note.

The company notes that if the industry is not made fully aware of the problem, data centers run the risk of doubling their energy costs between 2005 and 2011. Decade-old legacy data centers are obviously environmentally obsolete; however, new, high-density, data centers warrants more advanced power and cooling capabilities for their power-hungry equipment.

"Data center managers need to think differently about their data centers," Gartner vice president Rakesh Kumar in a statement. "Tomorrow's data center is moving from being static to becoming a living organism, where modelling and measuring tools will become one of the major elements of its management. It will be dynamic and address a variety of technical, financial and environmental demands, and modular to respond quickly to demands for floor space.

Kumar also added, "It will need to have some degree of flexibility, to run workloads where energy is cheapest and above all be highly-available, with 99.999 percent availability."

Achieving a reliable and efficient data center that also respects environmental restraints, Gartner said, will require "a holistic and integrated approach."

"If 'greening' the data center is the goal, power efficiency is the starting point but not sufficient on its own," said Kumar. "'Green' requires an end-to-end, integrated view of the data center, including the building, energy efficiency, waste management, asset management, capacity management, technology architecture, support services, energy sources and operations."

Gartner also noted that data center managers should consider powering equipment down, and distance themselves from a dangerous "always on" mentality.

Products like Hewlett-Packard's ( new power-capping server technologies and energy-efficiency services seem to be among a new wave of evolving solutions designed to reduce operating costs and extend the life of data centers while addressing a multitude of environmental concerns.

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