On-demand facilities and seperate power charging - a step closer to utility computing

Memset, the award-winning managed services provider has today announced plans to address the spiralling cost of powering and cooling a datacentre by adapting an on-demand model charging businesses for power consumption separately.

Memset is currently testing a system that will automatically power down some servers in a customer's managed cluster when underused, and will bring them online as load increases. This allows customers to have burst capacity available at short notice without wasting power when at normal loads. Customers with managed clusters will then only be charged for the power used, enabling Memset to pass on cost savings.

Whilst most providers already charge for bandwidth separately, the market has yet to look at charging for power. This is surprising, as power is fast becoming the single largest cost (ahead of bandwidth, hardware and maintenance) for hosting providers, including Memset.

"Integrating a scaling up and down model, and thereby reducing power consumption when its not needed, is one way of addressing the increasing energy costs facing companies and overcoming London's electricity restrictions," comments Kate Craig-Wood, MD of Memset.

A study published last year found that the average energy bill to run a corporate datacentre in the UK is about £5.3m per year and prices are currently doubling every three years. By charging for energy costs on demand, Memset believes companies could considerably reduce their current hosting costs without compromising available capacity. Servers still use a more than half of their full power requirements when idling, and the even the latest generation of low-power features has not significantly addressed idle-power requirements. Therefore, it's paramount to make sure servers are fully utilised to not only make them more efficient but to reduce the supporting infrastructure required, such as cooling, thus lessening the amount of power needed to run a datacentre.

Kate Craig-Wood continued, "Currently, up to 1.5% of UK power goes towards powering servers, and most servers are underused - the average resource utilisation is 10-15% (mainly due to over-provisioning of hardware to cope with spikes in demand). Whilst virtualisation and other innovations can address server utilisation, we knew something had to be done about our power consumption, especially in London where there is practically no power left, and its already being reserved for the 2012 Olympics."

"Power is expensive, and getting more so, whilst at the same time we are under increasing pressure to reduce carbon footprints. Data centres are, for now, unnoticed but I have little doubt that we will have green protesters outside them in coming years," continued Craig-Wood.

"In conjunction with our commitment to virtualisation, this core innovation not only moves Memset one step closer to offering true utility computing but will also increase the energy efficiency of our data centres," concludes Craig-Wood.

Posted August 2007 by Kate Craig-Wood