October 29, 2008 -- At Gartner's Data Center Summit 2008, held October 21-23 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the technology research firm's analysts contended that power and cooling will drive the evolution of data centers into becoming conceptual models of intelligent "living organisms," as organizations meet the need to improve energy efficiency and become greener.
However, "if greening the data center is the goal, power efficiency is the starting point but not sufficient on its own," noted Rakesh Kumar, vice president at Gartner. He continued, "Green requires an end-to-end, integrated view of the data center, including the building, energy efficiency, waste management, asset management, capacity management, technology architecture, support services, energy sources and operations."
According to Gartner, legacy data centers, constructed in the last decade are -- in relative terms and particularly when addressing the topic of green -- functionally obsolete. New, high-density, power-hungry data-center equipment warrants more advanced power and cooling capabilities. The firm contends that, if they are not fully aware of the problem, data center managers run the risk of doubling their energy costs between 2005 and 2011. If one assumes that data center energy costs continue to double every five years, these will have increased 1,600 per cent between 2005 and 2025.
"Data center managers need to think differently about their data centers. Tomorrow's data center is moving from being static to becoming a living organism, where modeling and measuring tools will become one of the major elements of its management," said Kumar. "It will be dynamic and address a variety of technical, financial and environmental demands, and modular to respond quickly to demands for floor space. In addition, it will need to have some degree of flexibility, to run workloads where energy is cheapest, and above all be highly-available, with 99.999 per cent availability."
Gartner maintains that achieving an optimized, reliable and efficient data center environment requires a holistic and integrated approach, which can be broken down into six stages:
1. Pick the location according to a strategic facility strategy. High-bay, warehouse-type buildings provide more efficient rack layout and airflow.
2. Develop the site on a modular basis.
3. Include chillers and high-ventilation air conditioning units (HVACS). Build all new large facilities with chilled fluid plumbing at the outset.
4. Introduce some recycling and alternative energy sources.
5. Put in monitoring tools.
6. Manage the server efficiencies. Move away from the 'always on' mentality and look at powering equipment down.
Gartner's Kumar concluded, "In this way, data centers will become more energy efficient, be better for the environment, and use emerging green IT products and processes. In essence, this living organism data center will be the green data center."