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Energy-related costs are the fastest-rising cost for the data center and represent about 12 percent of data center expenditure overall. That’s according to a new report from Gartner, which notes that data center power, cooling and energy supply and cost problems will accelerate over the next few years as companies are increasing their technology spending to catch up after the recession.

“With upwards of 5 percent growth for server shipments predicted per year over the next two years, organizations need to forcefully control their energy consumption and costs," said Rakesh Kumar, research vice president at Gartner, in a statement. "To do this, data center operators need to measure energy-related data across the whole site, including the building, the facility’s components and the IT equipment portfolio."

Organizations will be keeping a closer eye on energy consumption as a result, according to Gartner. Analysts at the firm said that continuous power utilization efficiency (PUE) readings will become the norm for most large data centers, and by 2015, 80 percent of new large data centers will report continuous PUE readings across the data center.

"However, despite the wide availability of measurement tools, experts and consultants on the topic, data center operators struggle with the best place to measure the energy in their data centers," said Kumar. "What is needed is a breakdown of the ideal approach to data center energy management into a pragmatic approach that will provide sufficient information for most operational planning purposes."

Organizational leaders must implement a way to measure energy use across six areas, according to Gartner: building, electrical facilities, building facilities, racks, IT hardware and virtual machines (VMs). By measuring across these areas, data center operators can obtain a highly detailed, comprehensive and, in most cases, a real-time usage picture of the energy that is being consumed across the whole site.