Web Hosting and Power, Resource Issues
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As a web host, you may feel a little like you’re caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to your resources. Everything costs money: advertising to get customers, purchasing servers for those customer web sites, and powering those servers to keep the web sites up and running. What’s a web host to do with all this stress?
Well, the first thing you need to realize is that it’s not your imagination. Costs really are going up, and they start with those servers. The Uptime Institute, an IT education and consulting firm, recently published a white paper to prove that point. Titled “The Invisible Crisis in the Data Center: The Economic Meltdown of Moore’s Law,” it makes for uncomfortable reading for anyone whose job involves lots of servers – and that certainly includes web hosts.
It’s hard to think of Moore’s Law as the villain in this case. It isn’t the law itself so much as the expectations it raises, and the fact that other factors involved in server power and maintenance don’t keep up with it. Let’s look at the math. Server computing performance has increased by a factor of three every two years since 2000. So to date, it has risen by a factor of 27. Looked at that way, perhaps we shouldn’t ask why we’re consuming so much power, but rather, why aren’t we consuming more?
The answer, of course, is that energy efficiency for servers has risen as well. It has risen too slowly to keep pace with the increase in computing performance, however – by only a factor of eight. So power consumption per computational unit is down 80 percent, but we’re putting a lot more of those computational units in play, meaning that we’re consuming more than three times as much power at the plug. When you add in the fact that these chips often require significant cooling in part because they’re more tightly packed than they were in older computers, you face some real power guzzling.
How bad is it? Uptime figures that by 2009, the cost to power a server over three years will be greater than the cost of the actual hardware. To quote Antone Gonsalves, covering the issue for Information Week, “by 2012, $1 million spent on servers will add $6.54 million more to the total cost of ownership of data center infrastructure than what was required in buying $1 million worth of servers in 2000.”
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