The Raritan Blog

Why CIOs Should See Their Power Bills

Susana Thompson
September 30, 2010

Data center infrastructures have grown and evolved in step with technology advancements.  In  amassing  the most-advanced technologies and powerful IT equipment to process the ever-growing data spawned by the Internet era, data centers today are sprawling information fortresses  —reaching  over one million square feet and processing terabytes and petabytes of information daily.  The creation of the modern data center focused on uptime and availability, and without much thought to energy— so it is no surprise that today’s data centers are not energy efficient.  With their  insatiable appetite for energy and skyrocketing energy costs, data centers face a number of power-related problems.  

The industry is doing what it does best—use technology to solve these problems.  New tools are being introduced to gain better understanding on energy usage in data centers;  new energy-efficient standards, such as PUE, for data centers are emerging; and, best practices are being created to eliminate waste from over-cooled rooms and underutilized servers.  Changing behavior is also a big part of the solution.

To drive new behavior, Dell CIO Robin Johnson advocates that CIOs see the power bill, which traditionally goes to the facilities team.

“Once the CIO knows how much power all those machines and their related cooling systems are consuming, it’s hard not to find ways to be more efficient,”  writes  Robin in his recent column  “Why CIOs Should See Their Power Bills.”  

“…But this isn’t green for green’s sake,” he says. “Most organizations need to think harder about their IT power use just to cope with the explosion of data in this digital era. Even if you could spend unlimited money on power and equipment for your data centers, the power grid where your facilities reside might not be able to provide any more juice—or you could simply run out of physical space in your data center.”

By increasing energy efficiency (and with Robin keeping an eye on Dell’s power bill), Dell was able to add 35% more computing capacity without using one additional watt, and postpone indefinitely the need to build a new data center.   

Robin’s insightful column can be found at