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Analysts See Hot, Cramped Time for Data Centers
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The forecast for data center isn't good for the short term: They're going to get hotter and a lot more cramped, according to Gartner analysts. Increasing use of cheaper x86 chip-based servers has presented problems for data centers, most of which haven't been redesigned since the last tech boom went bust six years ago, said Rakesh Kumar, a Gartner research vice president.
The number of server racks is increasing, the amount of floor space is decreasing and the power and cooling requirements are rising. As more attention is focused on the environment data centers are moving toward new legislation.
Gartner predicts that within 12 to 18 months, organizations will have to make major changes to accommodate the heating and cooling challenges that come with more processing power. The cooling statistics complicate the power picture. It takes 1.2 to 1.3 times the amount of energy a server consumes to cool it and IT managers frequently can't fill an entire rack because of the heat generated by the servers.
All of these obstacles contribute to higher energy costs. Gartner estimates that electricity costs could go from 10 percent or less of IT budgets to 20 percent to 30 percent if left unchecked. A huge amount of investment is being made in finding solutions, either through new products or through new data center designs. Governments also are paying increased attention to IT.
It's possible high-energy users could see higher taxes, or that ill-fitting legislation could be implemented, spurred by public demand for greener IT.