Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ll know that energy prices are rising. Whilst the press focus on consumers, businesses are being hit even harder, with no price cap.
So is there anything you can do to save money?
One thing you might not have thought about is the energy consumption of your IT equipment. Especially the server.
Here at Your IT Department we recommend a server be replaced after roughly 5 years, but we know many people continue to run them beyond that age to ‘save money’. But could this actually be more expensive than making a replacement? Could a new server reduce your energy costs and actually save you money?
Generally speaking, newer servers have more energy-efficient features than older servers. These features might include more efficient power supplies, better DC voltage regulators, processors that consume less power, cooling fans that are more energy-efficient, and built-in power management features.
In this article we look purely at the energy saving elements of a new server. Of course a new server is also likely to reduce downtime, and speed up processing – so you could make more money too!
Power management refers to the dynamic management of a server component’s performance in order to reduce power consumption for any given workload. These features save energy, especially for applications that do not run continuously or are accessed infrequently.
For example, server processors can reduce power consumption by automatically adjusting the speed of the CPU during times of low utilisation, or by automatically disabling CPU cores temporarily (when they are idle).
Savings and Costs
Energy savings attributable to power management features will vary greatly with hardware, software, feature characteristics, and workload. However, some studies have demonstrated the savings potential of some of these features: So will a new server reduce your energy costs?
One recent study found that CPU throttling (dynamic voltage and frequency scaling) could reduce CPU energy consumption by up to 55% during computations
A straightforward examination of power consumption associated with each of three power profile settings available on Dell PowerEdge servers (power saver plan, balanced power plan, and high performance plan) found no difference in power consumption when the server was idle. When the processor was fully loaded, the power saver plan used 18% less electricity than the high performance plan
A power managed server produces less heat (which reduces cooling costs) and requires less power (which reduces power infrastructure losses). In fact, as a result of these indirect energy benefits, saving one watt-hour of electricity at the server level typically results in an additional 1.9 watt-hours of electricity savings at the facility-level!
Virtualise servers and storage
If you are running multiple servers it will almost certainly reduce costs if you consolidate into a single server. However, you may want to retain some system separation. This is where virtualisation can be useful.
With virtualisation, you can aggregate servers and storage onto a shared platform while maintaining strict segregation among operating systems, applications, data, and users.
Most applications can run on separate “virtual machines” that, behind the scenes, are actually sharing the hardware with other applications.
Virtualisation dramatically improves hardware utilisation and enables you to reduce the number of power-consuming servers and storage devices.
Use high-efficiency UPSs
Most IT equipment isn’t directly powered from your buildings power source. Power typically passes through an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for power assurance.
Advances in UPS technologies have greatly improved the efficiency of these systems.
If you’re running a new server through an older UPS, then you could be mitigating some of the energy saving features. It is well worth considering a UPS upgrade at the same time as your server upgrade.
How much could you save?
Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to ascertain an exact figure. Plus of course you have to factor in the cost price and installation. However, there is no doubt you would see a reduction in energy usage with a new server.
In addition, you will see several other advantages:
- New server hardware can come with three, four, or five years of warranty or support coverage
- Higher system performance than the older server would provide, which might allow server consolidation
- Higher memory capacity than the older server would support, and likely less expensive memory
- Other system components are latest technology, providing higher performance
- Improved reliability. A new server should not see any hardware issues eradicating downtime
If your server is 5 years old or more than you should be looking to it replace anyway. So a reduction in energy costs would be an added bonus!