Late last year, Microsoft in the US published "The Economics of the Cloud", which I've only just got around to reading. If you are running a data centre in education - either at university or state level - then this is a good read to understand where your costs are adding up, and where you could be making savings. The document has some data points which were surprises for me (I love data points, so this report made my day):

  • For low-efficiency data centres, spending on power and cooling already outstrips spend on server hardware over three years
  • Electricity cost is fast becoming the largest element of Total Cost of Ownership (and with another 25% price hike in electricity in Australia, I guess we'll be there first…)
  • Conventionally, the server:people ratio is 140:1 - one system administrator can service approximately 140 servers. In Cloud data centres it's  000's:1
  • Average daily data centre usage is typically 50% of the daily peak usage
  • The Tax industry has peak usage 10x greater than average usage, compared to 2x for the News industry
  • Storage has fallen from $120/GB in 2006, to under $20/GB today and is predicted to hit under $5/GB by 2014

With so many Cloud projects happening in education in Australia, I wonder if anybody is yet collecting the statistics for what's being saved - in power, space or dollar terms?

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