A Shade of Green: The Virtual Conundrum

April 25, 2011 No Comments


Energy efficiency has long been touted as a major benefit of virtualisation. After all, fewer physical servers — or any other hardware for that matter — will ultimately require less power to run, need less cooling, and take up less data centre space.

The statistics often corroborate: IDC indicates the annual energy consumed by a single server, utilised or otherwise, produces four tons of carbon dioxide. That amount can quickly compound in large enterprises where virtualisation has not been implemented.

McKinsey, as well, estimates suggest a 30 per cent savings in the cost of power through virtualisation, a figure which has often been used to push Cloud computing among other technologies.

But it’s not always easy being Green. As Gartner last year warned on the topic of virtual desktops: “Enterprises need to understand the strain this technology can place on their data centre infrastructures and operations”.

According to David Blumanis, Asia Pacific vice president of regional data centre solutions at APC, the trouble lies in the increased density that virtualisation brings.

The problem, he says, is that the traditional data centre cooling methods used in an earlier era no longer apply to modern infrastructure with high levels of consolidation. Though there are fewer servers, each physical server is in fact working harder to provide the same amount of output, if not more.

“The traditional data centre can no longer cope,” Blumanis says. “It starts escalating as the cost of electricity escalates in Australia. We’re sort of racing at a hundred miles an hour through virtualisation and magnifying the energy cost and requirements moving forward.”

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