Servers? Cheap. Electricity? Yikes!

Ken Brill at Forbes does a little arithmetic to examine the true cost of running a server, and the numbers are a bit of a surprise. Since we're in the midst of something of a boom in data center construction, shouldn't someone be figuring out what they really cost before they buy a bunch of servers and roll out the plans? Because of the weird way accounting departments compartmentalize costs, server farms might seem awfully cheap. Until you plug it all in, of course.

Data-center building depreciation is often carried separately from data-center mechanical and electrical equipment. Utility bills often go to a centralized energy function. Site operation costs for technicians, security staff, power and cooling equipment maintenance, property taxes and other costs are often split between facilities and IT budgets. Nowhere is the total picture consolidated.

He's got a handy chart of expenses. It's Forbes, not USA Today, so it's not a pie chart:

You might admit you haven't lost a lot of sleep of the last row: Greenhouse Gas emissions per server, but accountants would look at the total expenses of running a server compared to the "CapEx," for the capital expenditure of purchasing and installing the server, and have a cow. The cost of electricity alone to power and cool a server exceeds its purchase price in just six years.

So we need to add datacenters to the list of things more expensive to keep up than to procure in the first place, along with sailboats and girlfriends on the side. The author's advice? Servers are more expensive than they first appear, and since up to 30% are probably obsolete anyway, you might want to turn them off and muddle through with only the ones that can pull their digital weight.
Via:  Forbes
bob_on_the_cob 6 years ago
Its easy to believe. I don't see why people don't take this into account. I could run every light in my house for less than running my pc.
rapid1 6 years ago

Most server farms at least on the large end are very modular on raised floors in sealed both environmentally and entrywise environments. Take for example AT&T Bellsouth and GOOGLE all of which I've worked in. They are kept at a flat temperature which is variable but usually between 55 and 65 degrees. All cabling machinery airflow airtemp air in and out etc is controlled. Not to mention on AT&T's and Google's site they're Monstrous I'd say 2-3 Football fields or Double one of FRY's big stores at a minimum. There generally in large industrial office parks so there's the real estate to which does'nt fluctuate quite like most real estate. The cost's are astronomical but they're the backbone of the worlds economies to. So what are they worth, remember the Information Superhighway lol then think about the government paying for it's highways. Probably the highest costs payed singley by any state or division of the federal government to build it upgrade it and keep it running in a single department. The same stands for the internet which all those trucks and trains and ships carrying all that merchandise are co-ordinated on. The money loss caused by downtime is counted by the second and in millions as well. So this astronomical cost would seem to be validated to me.

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