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Data centers, as notoriously expensive entities, provide ample opportunity for savings - both for budgets and the environment. An important step to make data centers more energy efficient while helping reduce companies' carbon emissions and delivering significant cost savings is to establish a baseline. This helps companies gain an accurate view of what's in their data center in order to determine where cuts and savings can be made.

As a result of the rising energy costs of running a data center, which, according to IDC, are already in the range of $3.3 billion annually, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy are creating standard ratings for energy efficiency benchmarks. While these benchmarks aim to force companies to be more environmentally friendly, companies often associate them with having to sustain new costs in order to meet them. However, establishing a baseline is a cost-effective way to generate immediate ROI while complying with environmental policies.

As the industry continues to grow, data center costs are expected to increase even more. IDC predicts the number of servers in the United States will jump 50 percent during the next four years. And by 2010, the total number of servers in the U.S. is expected to grow to 15.8 million, located in 7,000 data centers nationwide – the biggest of which currently contain as many as 80,000 servers each. Steps need to be taken to turn these expanding costs into savings opportunities, especially when environmental impacts are taken into consideration.

With the growing number of servers and data centers, there will naturally be an increase in power and energy use. This will quickly escalate the amount of resources needed and raise environmental concerns even more, as noted by the following statistics:

  • Data centers now account for 1.5 percent of all electricity consumption in the U.S. and by 2020, carbon emissions will have quadrupled to 680 million tons per year, which will account for more than the aviation industry - according to the EPA.
  • The average annual utility cost for a 100,000-square-foot data center has reached $5.9 million - according to Edward Koplin, a principal at engineering firm Jack Dale Associates.
  • Of 19 surveyed data centers, 1.4 kilowatts of power are wasted for every kilowatt of power consumed in computing activities - according to Uptime Institute.
  • The cost of power consumption by data centers doubled between 2000 and 2006, to $4.5 billion, and could double again by 2011 - according to the U.S. government.


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