Blog Post

How data center admins can add computing capacity while maintaining energy efficiency

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

As data keeps multiplying and arriving in more formats at faster speeds, data center operators foresee shortages of power, while they want to add computing capacity. But they want to expand in a way that’s energy-efficient, according to an April survey of 100 technology decision makers at large companies from InformationWeek, Siemens (s si) and UBM Tech.

Energy consumption is somewhat important, very important or extremely important to 78 percent of the respondents when they are planning to add computing resources, the survey showed. Reports of highly energy-efficient data centers at eBay, Facebook, (s fb) Google (s goog) and others have likely contributed to the drive to be energy efficient, but costs are surely top of mind, too.

The thing is, respondents have different approaches in mind for keeping power and cooling costs at bay and squeezing the most computing capacity out of their gear. The survey showed that respondents see many routes to a similar destination. Here are the top five means they want to employ or are already implementing:

  • Consolidate servers in existing data centers (38 percent)
  • Use blade technology (32 percent)
  • Put more energy-efficient equipment in place (32 percent)
  • Implement virtualization, outsource servers and/or storage to third-party cloud providers (30 percent)
  • Upgrade with mechanical improvements (24 percent)

Less popular options that got more than 15 percent of a response include adopting modular options and introducing data-center infrastructure-management software.

The results are remarkably different from a 2008 study Siemens conducted, which found 45 percent of respondents were looking to virtualization to save energy. Far less popular, each at 19 percent, were upgrades to air conditioning and cooling systems and bringing in more energy-efficient gear.

This year’s findings are sure to please blade server vendors — basically all the big general server vendors — as well as the virtualization experts over at VMware. (s vmw)

Companies playing in industries that sell potentially power-saving gear, such as microservers, modular data centers and SSDs could also benefit. So could companies peddling energy management software, such as Cisco. (s csco)

To be sure, companies are already doing some monitoring to monitor the energy implications of adding servers. The survey results show 23 percent track energy use from cooling infrastructure and IT systems on separate meters. And 22 percent use capacity-management tools to prevent the use of too much power. It looks as if these and other methods will continue just as data gets bigger. And with more data from more sources coming into use, that’s pretty much a given.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user asharkyu.

8 Responses to “How data center admins can add computing capacity while maintaining energy efficiency”

  1. Alessandra Ribeiro

    Innovations in all areas of sustainable energy supply and energy consumption are among the most effective tools we have to fight the negative consequences of climate change. Existing technologies allow us to substantially reduce greenhouse gases in the U.S. by increasing energy efficiency and saving energy, leading to a sustainable use of resources. Intelligent climate solutions with clean energy provide ecological benefits as well as economic advantages.

  2. Modular datacenter has redefined the way the traditional datacenters or computer center architectures implemented cooling, power supplies and space infrastructure. Modular datacenters mitigate capital costs through instant deployment and is readily available as plug and play self-contained systems. In addition, as it can also be added as a retrofit through individual modules, companies can incorporate incremental data, power, cooling and generators and so on.MarketsandMarkets ( ) predicts that North America, the first mover in this market, is still the major contributor by 2018; but Asia- Pacific (APAC) and Latin America are expected to surpass its growth with a steep increase in Y-O-Y because of huge potential available in countries such as China and India.

  3. I’m all about finding ways to make personal computers and smaller networks more energy efficient to save money and also just keep the IT area from feeling like an oven.

    With all these studies showing that small changes to individual systems and smaller networks can save so much money (, like Neillohit said – it’s weird that less than 15% of those companies are working on infrastructure management systems to help them deal with energy efficiency.

    I mean, you cut energy use, you also cut costs – so it’s a really wise long-term investment.

  4. It is bit surprising to see that less than 15% are planning on introducing data center infrastructure management software. In my opinion, knowing your current infrastructure and your current workload is key to do a better planning on how to optimize for efficiency.

    We have been using device42( as our DCIM and have found multiple ways to add computing capacity.

    The point being that every organization will have different plan of attack and it all starts with knowing what you have currently.

  5. mark hahn

    arggh! blades once offered a modest improvement in efficiency, but that’s entirely gone now that any decent server will have a platinum-level PSU. yet hordes of marketing weasels keep the idea alive – what’s not to love about vendor lock-in?

    if your datacenter has a PUE > 1.5, you’re doing something wrong, probably many things. the first thing you should fix is to keep your hot and cold air from mixing. curtains, blanking panels, etc. cheap and effective…


      Yeah tell me about 4000kwh PSU’s that require phase 3 power ain’t cheap That’s 24 PSU’s in full 42 rack. It requires the power that could typically power 3 city blocks.

      That’s why I’m looking into moving to Amazon. You don’t have to pay for idle power.