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Datacenter Costs: Who's to Blame?

Wanted to say a bit more about datacenter energy costs and how little businesses understand about getting them in line.

Yes, we all know datacenter costs are growing out of control -- but businesses themselves are often to blame.

How did this sad state of affairs come to pass?

IBM's Steve Sams (who runs Big Blue's service to assist customers in revamping their datacenters) shared some of his ideas earlier today.

Reason #1:
Poor IT management in the wake of aggressive growth by acquisition. Fast-consolidating industries often suffer from a fragmented or redundant datacenter strategies -- a case IBM's Sams said he often sees in financial services firms.

Reason #2:
Running regional and business units independently -- which may make sense from a business standpoint, granted. But all too often, this also means a company fails to coordinate IT needs, again leading to a fragmented or redundant strategy. Finance and media companies often fall into this trap, Sams said.

Reason #3:
Lack of CEO focus on IT needs -- despite a CIO's best efforts, datacenters continue to age (87 percent of datacenters were built before 2001, Sams said) and mission-critical components, frankly, break down. At the same time, needs grow and costs balloon.

Reason #4:
Genuine ignorance by CFOs about datacenter energy costs. Sams described IBM clients who weren't breaking out datacenter energy expenses from overall facilities energy expenses. Consequently, CFOs had no idea that datacenters were sucking up a large portion (10 to 30 times the energy needed by general office space!) of their energy bills. Thus, they couldn't prioritize the datacenter for an energy- and cost-saving makeover.

(Sams said IBM five years ago undertook efforts to address this shortcoming in its own organization -- contributing to the company's ultimate savings of $1.5 billion in datacenter costs annually.)

In every case, a lack of a cohesive, business-wide datacenter strategy the culprits, aided and abetted by a dearth of actionable data on datacenter costs.

With most large companies utterly dependent on the datacenter, their very businesses are on the line. That's why it's perplexing why more haven't taken the obvious steps necessary to ensure a sensible datacenter strategy.

"CEOs really have not come to grips," Sams said.

Has yours?

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