“Commodity Servers, Premium Datacenters”


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by Kelly Quinn, Research Director, RampRate
Sourcing Advisors / Strategic Research
LA: (310) 319.1599 | NYC: (212) 967.3356
http://ramprate.com

“Commodity Servers, Premium Datacenters”

It’s a phrase I’ve heard used more and more over the last few months, and I think it nicely sums up the general trend in datacenter computing over the last several years.

Chipset manufacturers aren’t striving to stay on the bleeding edge of Moore’s Law anymore. They realize the real-life implications of a fully loaded 40 Kw rack in the datacenter.  They’re keeping their product development eyes on solutions that are more in tune with what customers need – improved computing power, but not in a hot vacuum.

Hardware manufacturers and participants across the datacenter construction chain are attuned to this, too, and have made attempts at various points to introduce the cure for feverish datacenters.  Data center vendors are making a splash with the first post-mainframe water cooling revival, with some even proposing more exotic solutions like CO2-based cooling.  Hot aisle/cool aisle rules of thumb are giving way to comprehensive airflow analysis using computational fluid dynamics software.   Small ISPs and Internet giants alike are touting the green data center approach, whether internal (solar panels and high-efficiency UPSs) or the ability to buy greener power from a hydro- or wind-powered utility.

RampRate’s data put monthly costs per rack between $225 and $6,500 with outliers in excess of $25,000, depending on location and density.  Granted, reaching those upper bounds requires cramming a 42U cabinet full of multiprocessor blades, but in a world where you can get a dual core 1U server for under $800, the days where servers were the premium product and datacenter space was commodity are long gone.

So what does this mean for datacenter customers?  You have a clear need for aggressive efforts to secure the most advantageous datacenter pricing possible.  You know it’s not like it was five or six years ago, where you could walk in to any datacenter decimated by the dot com bust and name your price.  Now, you need to carefully identify potential providers, closely examine their pricing and any add-ons that might catch you after you sign on the dotted line.  You need someone who knows the market pricing and players inside and out and has the leveraging power to get you the best deal possible from this premium market.  (Of course, RampRate is perfectly positioned to do that, but to say so outright would make this a sales piece and not a blog post, so I’ll withhold my comment on that.)

What do you think?  Are datacenters going to remain premium products for the long term, or will a single global round of upgrades re-commoditize space?  Are OEMs doing enough with innovative designs in chipset power draws to reduce the need for absurd amounts of cooling for a single rack?  Will this idea of the ‘greening’ of the datacenter take off – and, if so, will that create a new subset of elite premium datacenters?

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