Data centers eye power costs

Sun-commissioned study indicates that IT executives are considering energy in purchasing decisions.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
2 min read
Energy considerations are playing into data center buying decisions, according to a survey commissioned by Sun Microsystems.

Conducted by Harris Interactive, the study found that IT executives are increasingly aware of energy, with three quarters of the nearly 200 executives queried saying energy efficiency has become a buying priority.

David Douglas David Douglas

On the other hand, the study found that many IT directors--38 percent of respondents--do not know how much they are spending on electricity.

"There are people out there running out of power in their data centers and thinking about energy but have not yet moved to the next stage--managing power consumption, which is a sizable piece of their budget," said David Douglas, Sun's vice president of eco-responsibility.

The Sun-commissioned study validates Sun's decision to focus on energy efficiency in its server product design and marketing, said Douglas, who was named to his position about six months ago.

Internally, the company has also taken a number of energy-saving steps, such as reducing energy consumption of its own data centers and having employees work at home.

He said the majority of technology consumers are driven by practical concerns in regards to energy rather than environmental goals.

For example, many companies are maxing out the power equipment in their data centers, which is needed to run and cool computing gear. Some companies spend nearly 20 percent of their IT budget on electricity, Douglas said.

A very small percentage of respondents, comprised of very large corporations, is energy-conscious for both economic and environmental reasons, he said. These companies measure their "carbon footprint," or the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that they emit.

Sun is working on a number of data center energy-saving initiatives that could be offered as products.

The company is looking at ways to bring cooling devices closer to the computing gear that generates the most heat, Douglas said.

It is also looking at ways that virtualization can be used, he added. Virtualization technology will allow customers to potentially power down under-used resources and consolidate the computing load on other servers, Douglas said.

In addition, Sun is in negotiations with several utility providers in the United States to replicate a rebate program around Sun servers that the company established with California's Pacific Gas and Electric, he said.