From the time I first heard a PC fire up as a child in the early ’90s, I remember an all-encompassing feeling of power. When I say power, I’m talking about two separate personal definitions that describe the word “power”. The first definition/feeling was, “Wow, look at all the things I can do with this thing! I have the power to network (insert modem sounds here).” The second feeling was, “Wow, the fans in this machine are loud like a jet engine. No wonder the lights flickered when I hit the power button. So cool!”
Today, in the year 2014, I still get excited about powering up a new PC/Mac or especially a new server. But these days, I get excited in a much different way. Yes, I think about things like, ‘What’s the processor speed, number of cores, or the storage/RAM capacity?’, but I also think, ‘What’s it going to cost me to power these machines?’ I live and work in New York state so the commercial cost per kWh (kilowatt-hour) is pretty high at 16.43 cents (taken from 2014 U.S. Energy Information Administration findings YTD). If you’re contrasting the cost of power in New York to that of New England, or the West coast, you thank your lucky stars that you live in NY and that power is cheaper in the Mid-Atlantic states.
Now, let’s pick on your business’ data center. Why not? We’re talking about commercial power costs here. When you extrapolate that cost, per server (with at least 2 power supplies), and then per switch (oh, yeah that too has 2 power supplies), per firewall (yep, that has 2 power supplies too)….you see where I’m going with this, it becomes very expensive to operate these computers that I once thought were the coolest thing since digital audio. We’re not even taking into consideration what it costs to cool your data center. No, no, that’s another scary number. The answer becomes very clear to me what needs to be done in order to save money; virtualize my infrastructure as much as I can. So, I turn to the Cloud.
In 2010, Southwestern Illinois College conducted a study and analyzed the total cost of ownership over a 3-year period for a 35 server upgrade with and without virtualization (link to the study as reported by www.energystar.gov). A system with 35 virtual servers on 4 physical host servers saved over $280,000 in total savings.
I’m going to take a step back because that study was done over 4 years ago in a state where the hardware that was consuming said energy, actually costs half of what businesses pay per kWH in New York, California, New England and some of the Mid-Atlantic states. Think about what the savings might be in the more costly areas of the U.S. Then think about that same study, and then add in this economic term we so love: inflation.
The John of 2014 (excuse the 3rd person) is realizing something different about the “power” of my once beloved computer. It’s “power consumption” is killing my pocket at work, and at home. You know what I do to cope? I turn to the Cloud-especially for solving the high power consumption, and then costs, associated with running the servers at work. I think about the benefits of building a better, more “Green” and energy efficient data center. So I virtualize as many servers that I can at the office. Those servers are your biggest power hogs in the computing world. Your office laptops and mobile devices certainly aren’t the primary focus of your power concerns. Although, using thin clients (small dummy terminals) rather than the bulky desktop PCs that are still in most offices today, cut power costs. In addition, your data isn’t stored on the thin client. It’s conveniently stored on a server via the Cloud. Look at these equations: ∑(fan death(s)) = (dead computer); (hard drive error) = ∑(years of aggregate work gone) + (will I still have my job?) × (worry)∞.
Bottom line is that my adult thinking regarding computer power is that it’s cool, but virtualization is cooler. The John of 2014 wants to save money first, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and then have compute power later. The only way I see that happening is through server and desktop virtualization. Wam, revelation! Now if I only knew of a company that specialized in utilizing the Cloud for server virtualization…