Going green could save you a lot more money than you think. Research from the Gartner Group has found that an aggressive adoption of energy saving practices could save about half of a data centre's cost.

The research company, which was hosting the annual Gartner data centre conference, said that the greenest organisation would cut down use of fans, pump and lighting, and radically change its expenditure in the process.

Gartner has calculated that a modern, 'green' data centre could expect to pay about $560,000 (£345,000) for 500kW of IT power. A similar, more traditional data centre would tend to cost about $1.3m (£800,000) - more than double the cost. That's just as well, the company also found that storage costs were set to rise steeply.

To take cooling as an example of how the savings could be made, in a conventional data centre, 35 percent to 50 percent of electrical energy is devoted to cooling, and with best practices, that proportion is reduced to 15 percent.

Many data centre managers only buy green products when they produce cost savings: 26 percent of conference attendees brought green products only when they lowered costs, saved space, or helped defer new data centre construction. However, 34 percent of respondents said that they would buy green products even if they increased costs initially.

Managers also reported massive increases in storage expenditure, which is growing almost three times faster than the IT budget as a whole. From 2007 to 2011, storage spending will increase more than 7 percent a year, compared with annual IT budget growth of only 2.5 percent.

Gartner also found that server virtualisation is beginning to make its way into the data centre, albeit slowly. Currently, only 12 percent of x86 server workloads are running in virtual machines, however by 2013 that number is expected to grow to 61 percent, with nine out of every four x86 workloads deployed or redeployed in 2008 being installed in a virtual machine.

Desktop virtualisation will also take off, with the number of virtualised PCs growing from fewer than 5 million in 2007 to 660 million by 2011.

Original reporting by Jon Brodkin, Network World.