Ways to Reduce Your Data Center Costs


Given the current economic climate, IT departments are under pressure to reduce costs. But can they do this without compromising on data security or quality of service? There’s no getting around the fact that owning and operating a data center is expensive. But following a few simple, sound best practices can help you reduce your ongoing operations costs, delivering savings year after year. Let’s have a look at them:


 Information life-cycle management (ILM) –  is as much a management philosophy as a technology and involves moving data to less-expensive systems or eliminating it as its value falls. Many vendors provide software and services to help customers implement ILM.


Infrastructure consolidation – Using data center resources more effectively means using fewer but higher-performing hardware devices rather than standalone distributed servers. The average server in most corporate IT environments is less than 10% utilized and has at least 80% spare disk capacity. Savings arise from better utilization of central resources as well as reduced systems management and administration.


Virtualization: Another common data center strategy is virtualization. It makes more efficient use of both servers and storage by combining physical devices into logical “pools” that can be more completely utilized than separate, stand-alone devices. This can cut power demands by reducing the physical servers and storage an organization requires. But it can also increase power demands by using very dense racks of servers and storage that max out the power capacity of data centers long before they are physically full.


De-duplication and compression: It can yield a 20-to-1 reduction in storage needs by storing only the differences between old and new copies, or by reading data as it is written to the backup device and storing only the unique data.


Take advantage of incentives: The government encourages industry to go green through incentives that provide support for converting to energy-efficient technologies. Look for programs available in your community, such as the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) Data Center Incentives Through the Industrial Process and Efficiency Program and ComEd’s data-center efficiency incentives in Chicago.


Monitor and manage your utilization: Take advantage of vendor software like Active Energy Manager that lets you optimize your power-savings settings. Monitoring data center temperatures can let you identify hot spots and fine-tune your HVAC systems. Take the time to figure out what your raw numbers mean; calculate your data center infrastructure efficiency (DCIE) and power utilization effectiveness (PUE) so that you know how much energy you’re wasting and what you gain from the improvements you make.


Operating system and application rationalization: It reduces the number of software elements to be supported, hence the complexity of the infrastructure and the number of devices required to deliver it to users. Fewer software elements also mean reduced user training and support and fewer interfaces between applications to manage and maintain.


Re-assess your maintenance strategy: In the Internet-of-things era, it’s now possible to rethink the way we perform data center system maintenance. Almost everything in the data center can now report on its condition to a centralized management system. By closely monitoring this data, you can make far smarter – and less costly – maintenance decisions.

The least-effective type of maintenance is emergency-based, where you simply repair systems after they fail. This can well result in data center downtime, and damage to your corporate brand. A step up is adhering to a maintenance schedule, similar to auto maintenance – you replace system components based on the manufacturer’s recommendations. But those recommendations are really just an average; not all data centers are the same, so your performance will likely be different.

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