Promoting Energy Conservation in the Data Center

March, 2008

Rising energy costs are creating new pressures on IT managers to lower the amount of energy consumed by data centers. Yet, surprisingly, nearly half of IT organizations are not held accountable for energy costs in their IT budgets.

This Research Byte is a summary of our full report, Holding IT Accountable for Energy Costs.

For all the discussions surrounding energy consumption in the data center, it appears that IT managers have not yet fully embraced energy conservation as a key component of their decision making. For many IT managers, reliability and price/performance continue to take precedent over low-energy processors and high-efficiency fans. Perhaps this is because IT managers, in many cases, are not responsible for the cost of utilities used to power and cool their data centers.

A recent Computer Economics survey found this to be the case. Surprisingly often, organizations do not include data center utilities as part of their IT budgets. Our survey, involving 128 IT managers during the fourth quarter of 2007, found that 44% of organizations do not consider utilities when preparing their IT budgets. The remaining organizations, as shown in Figure 1, include all or part of their IT utilities expenses in their IT budgets.

PayingUtilitiesFig1 - Promoting Energy Conservation in the Data Center

The full version of this report identifies the latest U.S. government initiatives to promote energy efficiency in IT, analyzes current practices in IT budgeting for power and cooling costs, looks at two key concepts for assessing the return on investment from more energy-efficient data center technologies. We conclude with ways in which IT mangers could actually benefit from having utilities charged to the IT budget.

The rising cost of energy will make conservation a higher priority for most organizations. If IT managers are expected to control energy costs, the budgeting system needs to hold them accountable for it. As one the largest consumers of energy in an organization, IT managers should view this development as a new opportunity to show the value they bring to the table.

This Research Byte is a brief overview of our report on this subject, Holding IT Accountable for Energy Costs. The full report is available at no charge for Computer Economics clients, or it may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website at (click for pricing).