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Power Scourge

Computer servers now account for 1.2 percent of total U.S. electric consumption, according to recent study.
Karen M. Kroll, CFO Magazine
August 27, 2007

If you thought computer hardware and software were expensive, consider that the electric bill for a data center can eat up 25 to 44 percent of its budget. That raises concerns not just about the bottom line, but also about brownouts or blackouts. A recent study by Stanford professor Jonathan Koomey found that computer servers (including cooling and auxiliary equipment) now account for 1.2 percent of total U.S. electric consumption, a figure that's growing fast. (Power consumption by such devices doubled between 2000 and 2005, Koomey says.)

The situation is so bad that, in December, Congress asked the Environmental Protection Agency to study the power consumption of corporate and government data centers; the EPA was expected to issue its findings late last month (after this issue went to press).

So what's a company to do? A short list of partial solutions includes:

New energy-efficient servers can also help (see "What's Hot This Summer"), and recent industry initiatives such as The Green Grid consortium and the Climate Savers Computing Initiative promise to deliver better technology and smarter management techniques.