Ironically, the most popular way to try to cool off the data center is to wheel in bigger servers, according to the results of a worldwide survey that has found that power consumption is most definitely a data center issue.
58% of the 800 respondents to the survey said that increasing energy efficiency is a critical or high priority for their data centers. Of the respondents that said that they were already addressing the issue, more named server consolidation as a strategy than any other tactic, including even server virtualization.
Sponsored by Symantec and completed in September, the survey covered data center managers spread across the planet, in large business that averaged 31,000 employees and 14 data centers.
Symantec has already released some results from the survey, and last week publicized more findings from the survey related directly to the issues of data center power efficiency.
Only a minority of the respondents were not already notably concerned about kilowatt consumption on their premises. All but 15% said that power efficiency was at least a moderate priority, while at the other end of the scale, 16% said it was a critical issue.
About in line with that spread of criticality, one in seven respondents or 14% had in Symantec’s words begun implementing a green data center.
Add in the others that are already trying out new technologies that they hope will curb the data center appetite for electricity, and the proportion of respondents taking some form of green action is about 20%.
When this leading sub-set was asked to tick off which technologies they were working with, server consolidation came in first, and was chosen by 55% of respondents.
Server virtualization came in slightly lower, with a 52% rating. Some respondents might have been confused over the difference between consolidation and virtualization. Symantec told Computer Business Review that it defined consolidation as the process of replacing multiple servers with smaller numbers of larger boxes, for applications such as web or application serving.
These applications can scale with the device, and the boxes that run them are not using virtualization software to put logical partitions or firewalls between multiple disparate applications.
Elsewhere on the list of green technologies, storage resource management software was ticked by 43% of that leading green subset of respondents, and data de-duplication and storage virtualization by a surprisingly high 41%, and 50% respectively.
For the storage virtualization, Symantec’s director of storage management Sean Derrington said that many respondents will have considered host-based volume management – such as Symantec’s own self-titled Volume Manager software – as part of that technology.
When all 800 survey respondents were asked what efficiency-boosting technologies they planned to deploy over the next twelve months, the pattern was very similar. 51% identified server consolidation, 47% server virtualization, and 44% said they would replace older gear with more efficient hardware.
Despite consultants’ and vendors’ advice that an essential part of managing the consumption of any resource is to measure and monitor it, only 38% said they plan to meter and watch power consumption.
Although there were no strong variations between continental regions such as say Europe versus North America or Asia, there were strong differences between countries.
73% of respondents in China said that their companies were either trialing or implementing so-called green technologies, a higher percentage than in any other country. Other high scorers in this category were India and South Korea with 66% and 63% respectively. Derrington said that this might be because those countries featured a greater number of fast growing, young businesses still building new data centers.
IT vendors should note that 72% of respondents said that power efficiency is at least a somewhat important factor when choosing products, according to Symantec.
Quite apart from the realities of rising electricity bills or the inability to get their hands on enough power from the local grid to meet their needs, IT staff around the planet displayed a wider concern for the environment.
63% of the respondents said that the reduction of the use of hazardous or toxic materials in IT gear was at least a moderate priority, despite a remote probability that they or their staff will ever come into contact with such materials. 56% put the same rating on the reduction of the use of electricity generated from polluting energy sources.