Server Power Consumption Cost Exceeds the Cost of the Server – SO WHAT!

Saying a modern server uses too much power is like saying a train uses more power than a horse drawn wagon. Of course it does, but it also does way more work. Let's not forget what's important to the question of cost and that is simply how much work is the server performing?

I've contributed to this noise in the past, but recently I've had a change of heart. After reading several recent articles that mention the cost of power exceeding the cost of the server, I've come to a new realization on this issue. The power use must be measured as it pertains to work potential.

Watts vs. Work Output

A single server today is twice as capable as a single server from two years ago.  There are more CPUs and each CPU is more powerful. There's more memory and each dimm is faster and has more capacity than its predecessor. So, even though the amount of power being used by each server has gone up, the actual "watts per work output" has gone down.

We must always be looking to make the solutions we create more efficient in design, life cycle and use characteristics.  However, we shouldn't overlook the fact that these systems are replacing work that would otherwise use much more power.

So, if you're really worried about how much power your servers are using, there are myriad opportunities you can pursue;

Greater virtualization
Use of cloud
Improved Management platforms for your infrastructure (Cloud & Virtual)
Applications (software) written with efficiency of operation as a consideration
Right sizing your environments
Using a well design and efficient data center
Etc., etc..

What you shouldn't do is fall into the trap of "not seeing the forest for the trees". Focus on the activities that generate business benefit and do those actions with sustainability and efficiency as part of your process. If you start trying to extend your servers life instead of implementing solutions that create business opportunity you'll be missing the forest. You might also find that many companies are actually improving their bottom line by replacing efficiently utilized servers more often, so they can reduce wasted energy and increase the work output per Watt.