Increased power efficiency alone won't be sufficient to turn data centres truly "green", Gartner has said in advance of a major data centre conference.

"If 'greening' the data centre is the goal, power efficiency is the starting point but not sufficient on its own," Gartner analyst Rakesh Kumar said in a short research note.

"'Green' requires an end-to-end, integrated view of the data cenre, including the building, energy efficiency, waste management, asset management, capacity management, technology architecture, support services, energy sources and operations."

Legacy data centres are becoming obsolete, particularly when it comes to addressing environmental problems, Gartner said. More advanced power and cooling capabilities are needed to support data centre equipment that is increasingly dense and power hungry.

"If they are not fully aware of the problem, data centre managers run the risk of doubling their energy costs between 2005 and 2011," Gartner stated. "If we assume that data centre energy costs continue to double every five years, they will have increased 1,600 percent between 2005 and 2025."

IT should strive to build data centres that are like intelligent living organisms, heavy on modelling and measuring tools, running workloads where energy is cheapest, and addressing technical, financial and environmental demands while offering 99.999 percent availability, the analyst firm said.

Locations should be chosen strategically, said Gartner, noting that high-bay, warehouse-like buildings result in more efficient rack layout and airflow. Sites should be developed with modular components, incorporate recycling and alternative energy sources, HVAC systems and perhaps water cooling.

Monitoring tools are also crucial, for example to manage servers, moving away from an "always on" mentality, Gartner said.

"Tomorrow's data centre is moving from being static to becoming a living organism, where modelling and measuring tools will become one of the major elements of its management," Kumar said. "In this way, data centres will become more energy efficient, be better for the environment and use emerging green IT products and processes. In essence, this living organism data centre will be the green data centre."

Gartner will provide more analysis on green data centre trends, as well as topics like virtualisation, storage, servers and IT operations during the first week of December at the analyst firm's 27th annual Data Centre Conference in Las Vegas.