It’s a well-known fact that the cost of hardware has been steadily falling for many years. But at the same time, the cost of powering these systems has also been rising steadily. In fact, many experts are estimating that the cost of powering servers will soon overtake hardware costs.
In some extreme cases, energy costs have been known to represent half of the total costs associated with datacenter operations.
This is such a major problem that the Environmental Protection Agency has even headed a new project called The Green Grid, aimed at raising awareness about the need to improve datacenter energy efficiency.
Although more efficient CPUs (especially multi-core processors) have been helping to contain those costs, the best way to minimize energy usage within the datacenter is simply to minimize the number of physical servers.
In the past, companies would typically base their server buying decisions on functionality rather than their resource requirements. If you needed a database server, a file server, and a Linux server, you would buy 3 physical boxes. Because hardware was relatively inexpensive you would buy more storage and processing power than you needed… just to be safe.
But in today’s economic climate, companies need to squeeze out waste and improve efficiency anywhere they can.
The power and cooling costs for a typical server today can easily range around $500 per year. And this is for a system whose resources which are highly underutilized.
A typical server might only utilizes about 5-10% of its total processing capacity and less than 50% of total disk storage capacity. The rest of the time, you’re paying to power an idle system. When you consolidate systems to a single physical device, you maximize the total resource usage without having to power and cool a room full of redundant boxes.
Since virtualization allows you to consolidate all of your servers to a single host machine, you no longer have to pay for the energy costs associated with running more under-utilized systems than you need. And as a result, your cooling costs will also go down.
Virtualization is a great way to make your company more energy efficient without having to make significant capital investments. Conserving energy this way is not only good for the planet, but it’s also good business.