Data centre horsepower vs. cost?

A U.K.-based pricing and tariff research company called Tariff Consultancy Ltd. recently reported that the cost of data centre racks has increased across certain European countries. The U.K. and Austria were found to have the highest average prices, and Portugal, Denmark and France have the highest rate of price increase in 2008.

Tariff said the advent of virtualization technology has made it possible for data centre racks to offer way more processing power, but that also means they require more power to run and therefore more money to keep that power running. And because more horsepower is produced, more heat is generated which then hikes the cooling cost.

So, while new rack technology offers the great promise of added horsepower and the capability to run more applications faster, that gain is sadly negated by the cost of powering and cooling the facility.

Given that the idea of hosting one’s IT infrastructure externally, or maintaining a remote backup location, is becoming less alien to businesses, data centre service providers and their customers will increasingly demand technology that can render one benefit but not at the expense of another

Also, as the Web increasingly becomes the new desktop, demands for bandwidth and processing power are also on the rise. And companies are offering ever-more prominent online components to their business, like Web services, which, again, require added horsepower.

It’s true that there are ways to lower data centre costs, for instance by locating the facility in colder geographies where ambient cold air would replace an otherwise expensive cooling mechanism. But the sheer remoteness of the facility would likely add to the cost of delivering the service to customers. So, is it really possible to attain an equilibrium where one can reap horsepower but at a reasonable expense to the budget and the environment?

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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