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CDW Poll Reveals Popular Options for Improving Data Center Energy Efficiency

CDW’s fourth annual Energy Efficient IT Report, a survey of IT professionals in both public and private sectors across the U.S., is out with “solution ratings maps” that identify data center solutions respondents believe offer the “greatest potential for cost reductions” and that are the easiest to get approved and implemented.

Online versions of the Solution Ease Ratings Map and Solution Savings Ratings Map help users understand the results visually. The Solution Ease map displays what percent of respondents received actual savings and projected additional savings for a variety of tasks, such as “consolidating servers” and “Deploying more power-efficient networking equipment.” The Solution Savings map plots tasks against ease of approval and ease of implementation.

Among newer technologies, 62 percent of respondents said they believe cloud computing is an energy-efficient approach to data center consolidation (only 47 percent agreed with that statement in 2010).

What are enterprises actually doing now to reduce their energy use? The top two options: virtualization of servers and storage (65 percent) and server consolidation (60 percent). Implementing hardware that uses newer, low-power/low-wattage processors, installing ENERGY STAR devices, and deploying more power-efficient networking equipment rounded out the top 5 in popularity.

How much are they saving? Respondents said virtualized servers and storage helped them reduce energy use by 28 percent; new cooling approaches could cut costs by 22 percent, and energy-efficient/load-shedding UPSes could cut use by 21 percent. (The survey warns that average savings estimates are for individual solutions only; total savings when solutions are combined would be different.)

Favorable attitudes about “going green” are growing: 43 percent of study participants said green initiatives are a leading driver of data center consolidation (up from 34 percent in the previous year’s report). More than half of respondents (54 percent) “have or are developing programs to manage power demand in the data center.” Of enterprises with such a program, three-quarters (75 percent) claim they’ve reduced their IT energy costs.

IT is also putting its money where its’ “clean” mouth is. Survey respondents said that on average, about a third (32 percent) of their data center purchasing in the last three months was “green” -- that is, “energy efficient, water efficient, bio-based, environmentally preferable, or non-ozone depleting.”

Of course, not everything is rosy; many barriers remain. IT professionals still want “information and measurement tools” so they can assess energy use, potential savings, and ROI. They want “an objective breakdown of power and energy use within IT, a clearer set of industry standards for what constitutes energy efficient IT, and easier identification of energy-efficient equipment.” Topping the list of barriers: 58 percent said "We have too little budget left for new, more efficient systems," and "Our senior management gives higher priority to investments in other areas of the organization" was cited by half of those surveyed. A mere eight percent of respondents say it’s easy to estimate energy use or anticipated savings based on the equipment specifications manufacturers provide.

A free copy of the report (registration required), which includes breakdowns by industry, can be downloaded here.

-- James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted on 04/02/2012 at 11:53 AM