Estimating Colocation Data Center Power Usage

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock PhotosData centers are rapidly moving toward a new pricing model. Instead of charging for square footage, they are starting to charge for power usage. Companies that plan to colocate their equipment should add another price point to the inquiry sheet: they should estimate potential power usage before entering price negotiations.

Businesses don’t want to pay for more capacity than necessary. Likewise, they want to have enough capacity to handle their current equipment’s top power usage needs. How can power usage be estimated though? The following provides a sequential checklist for doing just that.

  1. Create a spreadsheet of all equipment—including make and model—that will be colocated. For each item, add columns to estimate maximum power usage and actual power usage. You will fill in those columns during the next two steps.
  2. For each piece of equipment, list the watts on the power supply in the maximum power usage column. This is the highest amount of power that piece of equipment can possibly draw.
  3. Use a power modeling tool to calculate the actual power usage. Manufacturers like HP, Dell, and IBM offer online power usage estimators to help customers make these calculations. To obtain an actual and accurate power usage number, be ready to include information related to processors, drives, and memory. List the resulting number in the actual power usage column.
  4. Add up the maximum power usage column. This number is the absolute maximum amount of power that you might need to pay the colocation data center.
  5. Add up the actual power usage column. This number is the power usage that your equipment most likely will use.

Using the Numbers

The question for companies, then, in finalizing their estimated and ideal power usage is this: What number should they trust? Should a company use its maximum power usage in pricing negotiations, or would the company be better served by relying on its actual power usage number? Considering that companies do not want to pay to power equipment that is not being used and considering that no business wants to fall short on power, aiming for a buffer above the actual power usage level is the best bet. This will ensure that the power remains available and that costs remain low.

Data centers will sell companies the capacity that is requested. Businesses who know what that capacity is will get the best deal.

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