Rising cost isn't even the whole story. I've seen datacenters that were running at maximum capacity -- they literally couldn't run any more circuits. Obviously consolidation should be a serious consideration in these cases, but even bigger steps are being taken.
A customer recently told me over lunch that some of his company's largest expenditures are energy costs. In response, they're planning to get off of the grid completely. The goal is to use solar and wind power, and to generate energy internally by burning biomass. I've heard other companies are looking to geothermal for heating and cooling.
An interesting and, perhaps, overlooked aspect of IBM's recent POWER7 announcement is the energy savings potential of these systems.
"The new systems can deliver four times the performance and four times the virtualization capability for the same price, and are three to four times more energy efficient...
"IBM Power 750 Express, an Energy Star qualified business server for mid-market clients [offers] four times the processing capacity of its predecessor, the IBM Power 550 Express...
"POWER7 technology features 'Intelligent Threads' that can dynamically vary based on workload demand. With more threads, POWER7 can deliver more total capacity as more tasks are accomplished in parallel, such as monitoring the energy usage of millions of households by the minute in a smart grid. With fewer threads, those workloads that need very fast individual processing -- such as real-time analytics or database transactions -- can get the performance they need for maximum benefit. Intelligent Threads work on all POWER7 processors...
"IBM's POWER7 systems are designed to make dramatically better use of energy. Unique Intelligent Energy technology allows customers to power on and off various parts of the system or to dynamically increase or decrease processor clock speeds based on thermal conditions and system utilization, on a single server or across a pool of multiple servers. POWER7 energy management technologies are integrated from its processor, to firmware, PowerVM virtualization, operating system support, and up to IBM Active Energy Manager software, included in the new IBM Systems Director Standard and
Enterprise Editions. As a result, the system dynamically balances between energy usage and performance and systems utilization based on policy. The result is improved performance per watt -- more than two-times better than similar Intel x86-based systems, four times better than Sun SPARC servers and eight times better than similar HP Itanium-based servers."
As we dig into the details of the POWER7 announcement and get excited about the performance gains we can expect, don’t overlook the greater energy efficiency. It's one of the biggest benefits we'll see as we upgrade our hardware.