Data centres run risk of power outages

New research points blame at blade servers increased use of power and cooling as data centres stretch to breaking point.

Data centres are running out of space and the amount of power they use will soon cause many to experience outages, according to new research.

A survey, carried out by Aperture Research Institute, found that 43 per cent of data centres are running out of physical space and power density in racks is at an all time high.

The survey of over 100 enterprise data managers, representing over 600 data centres, covered a spectrum of company sizes and industries, including banking, insurance, healthcare, data services, retail, and telecommunications, found that nearly 90 per cent of those surveyed said that 75 per cent or more of the space in their data centres was already allocated to IT equipment.

The research found that 43 per cent of respondents said that 90 per cent or more of their data centres were already in use. The company also found that servers and racks are using more power than ever before with 38 per cent of respondents saying that their average rack was using from 7 to 18 kilowatts or more of power.

The company said that this amount of energy use was not only putting pressure on the power infrastructure, but will also increase demand for cooling and increase the risk of server outages.

It said one of the main reasons for the increase in power density was the use of blade servers in data centres. The servers have a smaller footprint than normal servers but use more power and cooling.

Increased complexity of blade servers and the demands of power and cooling also increase the risk of human error, according to 57 per cent of respondents this was a leading cause of outages. Nearly a fifth of respondents said they didn't know what the average power density of their racks were.

"Data centres are facing a time of crisis because of the increased demands on their physical resources and management," said Steve Yellen, vice president of marketing at Aperture. "There's a gap between IT and data centre facilities that's resulting in a rapid increase in high density equipment without thinking about the ability of a data centre to reliably support that capacity."

Yellen said that data centres are stretching thinner and thinner and more and more instances of downtime and failure are "likely to occur."

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