Analyst house Gartner is warning technology bosses to take the twin issues of pollution and energy consumption seriously, because policy makers are starting to pay serious attention.
Gartner research vice president Rakesh Kumar says, in both the US and the EU, legislation that will penalise organisations with large data centres that do not put measures in place to better manage waste energy is not just in the pipeline, but is imminent.
He says: "The power needed for a rack of high-density server blades can be between 10 and 15 times higher than the power needed for a traditional server environment. Most legacy data centres built 15 to 20 years ago cannot meet this demand."
Meanwhile, power is also needed to cool the warehouses to stop the machines from falling over, he notes.
As energy prices rise, power costs could grow to as much as 50 per cent of the IT budget, Gartner warns.
Kumar says: "Today, energy costs typically form less than 10 per cent of an overall IT budget. However, this could rise to more than 50 per cent in the next few years. The bottom line is that the cost of power on this scale would be difficult to manage simply as a budget increase and most CIOs would struggle to justify the situation to company board members."
The analyst house warns that technology's "growing environmental footprint", is challenging its image as a clean and friendly economy. Rather than being seen as part of the solution to environmental issues, technology risks becoming part of the problem.
The only possible course of action long-term is for companies to put pressure on vendors to build less power hungry kit.
But in the short-term, Gartner advises data centre managers to delay moving to high density blade servers, instead focusing on redeploying the kit they already have to its best possible advantage.
"The writing is on the wall for CIOs. Whatever way you look at it they have to take control of the impending power crisis and data centre management will be crucial to that." ®