Gartner: Seven ways to cut data centre costs

Reducing cost is imperative to any business, particularly during an economic downturn.

However, budget cuts are not always an effective means of realising this. Fortunately, there is another way - or seven, to be precise - according to Gartner.

"While responding to contracting budgets, IT managers are expected to deliver an ever-increasing level of service to users, and many are charged with showing tangible financial savings as part of cost-cutting measures," said Rakesh Kumar, research vice president at Gartner.

"Significant savings can be made in the data center. For example, removing a single x86 server will result in savings of more than $400 a year in energy costs alone."

Gartner identified seven areas where businesses could make savings by reducing costs associated with their data centres.

Hardware rationalisation or consolidation allows for improved operational efficiency by reducing the number of data boxes, leaving only the most efficient. By effectively reducing the number of boxes, there is less maintenance and support, as well as reduced energy costs - typically more than $400 per server, per year, according to Gartner.

Additionally, site consolidation where multiple sites are re-organised in a smaller number of larger sites reduce the level of redundant IT assets, software, support, and disaster recovery contracts.

Consolidation is often associated with cutting staff. However, by retraining staff to fill in gaps in the IT organisation, Gartner states that consolidation can typically result in savings of between five and fifteen per cent of the over data centre budget.

Environmental costs associated with constantly expanding data centres result in an ever increasing carbon foot print, as well as energy costs. By implementing blanking panels and economisers, as well as ultilising outside or free air, saves money on expensive air conditioning units.

Additionally, the incorporation of server-based energy management software to organise work loads more efficiently, contributes significantly towards reduced energy and facilities costs, according to Gartner.

According to Gartner's findings, managers must liaise with finance and procurement teams to ensure that all contracts, leases, software, and support contracts are efficient and cost effective - new terms and conditions can always be negotiated, and often lower costs.

Staffing costs account for nearly 40 per cent of most data centres overall costs, according to Gartner - constant reviewing of staffing levels and efficiency is imperative.

The report suggested businesses look to maximise labour arbitrage benefits by using skills in regions with cheaper rates, such as India, Brazail and Poland.

While many businesses are keen to spend on IT, Gartner suggest delaying the procurement of new assets, which could result in unnecessary costs. Instead, businesses should negotiate on maintenance and support costs, ensuring that software is still supported on servers whose working life is being extended.

Additionally, virtualisation of existing hardware promotes consolidation, a smaller hardware estate, reduced energy costs, and less maintenance and support, resulting in lower operating depreciation costs.

Gartner predicted that virtualisation will yield net savings within 24 hours. Additionally, the effective use of virtualisation can reduce server energy consumption by 82 per cent, and floor space by 86 per cent.