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ACM TechNews

Energy Drain By Computers Stifles Efforts at Cost Control

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Higher-education institutions are having a hard time keeping computing costs under control because of power-thirsty data centers. Experts say colleges and universities have been slow to realize the value of energy-saving methods due to their decentralized structure and researchers' resistance to centralization. "Folks in data-center organizations like mine who are consuming energy, we don't have a meter on the data center," says Mark S. Askren at the University of California at Irvine. "We don't even know how much we're consuming." In an effort to save energy and money, Stanford University is building a more environmentally friendly data center off campus that will cool servers with circulated outside air rather than with chilled water, while also expelling hot air emitted by the servers. Data-center experts recommend that colleges conduct an energy audit to determine how much power their data centers are devouring as a first step toward boosting efficiency. APC's Jesse Hanz says colleges can save substantial amounts of energy by improving their cooling systems incrementally, while Stanford consulting professor Jonathan Koomey stresses the need to establish incentives so that IT departments and faculty are encouraged to become more energy efficient. Experts are projecting a long-term trend in which many colleges will outsource their data-center operations so that they can save money and concentrate on their primary proficiencies. Gregory Ganger with Carnegie Mellon University's Parallel Data Laboratory says the need for a centralized data center for research is gaining importance, and that virtualization has been sufficiently refined to accommodate a wide diversity of situations.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education

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