Sunday, November 30, 2008

costs of operating a data center

In recent weeks I've been in a number of meetings about storage architecture. In comparing potential solutions for a particular project's needs, there has been a lot of discussion about requirements for space, cooling, power, etc., which are some of the metrics for comparison of the proposals. Today I came across a posting by James Hamilton from Microsoft's Data Center Futures Team, on misconceptions about the cost of power in large-scale data centers.

There is an error in the table for the two amortization entries: the 180-month amortization of the facility says 3 years in the notes column when it should say 15, and the 36-month amortization of the servers says 15 years when it should say 3. The right numbers are used in the calculation -- it's just the explanatory notes that are switched.

There are some very interesting calculations that I plan to forward to other folks. One commenter points out that the figures and graph don't take staffing into account, which, according to Hamilton, is because that cost is a very small percentage of the cost. At Microsoft's scale that's probably true. I guess we're a relatively small- to medium-scale data center, because we are definitely taking that into consideration. And, while the cost of power may be a lower percentage of overall cost than previously considered, power capacity is still definitely a factor when you're considering adding a number of servers and switches.

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