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Energy costs and data center complexity creating 'perfect storm,' says Avocent exec

Rising energy costs and increasing data center complexity require the merging of IT and facilities tasks, says an Avocent exec, who will present at this year's LinuxWorld conference.

Soaring energy costs and the complexity of managing vrtualization have changed the data center game and require IT to develop new management strategies.

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In a preview of the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo presentation "Managing the Merge of Facilities and IT," C.C. Fridlin, the vice president of data center product management at Huntsville, Ala.-based Avocent Corp., said that the rising cost of power alters the value of assets so dramatically that IT and facilities staff need to collaborate to make the best choices in building, equipping and operating data centers. Perhaps even a data center architect is needed, he said.

The problem is that IT now spends 60% or more of the cost to buy equipment just to run it, and that number will only increase, he said. And new servers, which have greatly increased processing power, cost three times as much to run as older ones, which represents a "huge power and cooling tax," he said.

"Today, I have to look at the whole cost of an asset and not just what I spent to buy it," Fridlin said. "I need to partner with facilities people to understand which devices are causing excessive energy costs."

[IT people] need to partner with facilities people to understand which devices are causing excessive energy costs.
C.C. Fridlin,
VP of data center product managementAvocent Corp.

Now, for example, Fridlin might replace a server before it has been fully depreciated and write off the difference, a practice that would never have been considered in the past, he said.

Yet even IT departments that know how much it costs to run the data center typically can't isolate the cost of running the equipment from the facility as a whole, which makes it hard to quantify hardware operational costs, let alone pinpoint an individual, power-guzzling server, Fridlin said.

Costly energy=more complexity
High energy costs have also made data center workloads more demanding and complex, he said. Increasing power costs are a primary factor in the move to virtualization technoligies, which increase staff workload, often without a commensurate boost in the number of employees, he said Since IT staffs are doing more work, recent survey data indicating that better management tools have become a top priority is not surprising, he said. In previous years, the inability to devote more time to critical tasks and the need for more staffing outranked tools as a concern.

Second, rising power bills have sparked a trend toward building data centers in remote locations near cheap energy sources that are distant from the staff that manage them, also creating more work, he said.

In addition, like businesses across the board, data centers face rising customer expectations; they expect service, not just an IT infrastructure, he said. IT needs to respond by breaking down work silos between a Linux team and a Windows or virtualizaiton team and work together to serve the customer, Fridlin said.

IT shops now face a perfect storm of increasing energy costs, greater job complexity and higher customer expectations. They need to work as teams and learn to make resource decisions based on different values and wider perspectives if they are to survive, he said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Pam Derringer, News Writer . And check out Enterprise Linux Log.

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