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Transforming Your Enterprise Magazine

Fall 2008
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Teaching the data center to think green

New initiatives, technologies and strategies are advancing the energy efficiency of modern data centers.

Teaching the data center to think green

Understanding the environmental impacts of business technology is a relatively new field, but it’s growing fast thanks to rising energy costs, environmental awareness and increasingly strict energy-use regulations.

According to Bill Kosik, Director of Energy and Sustainability Initiatives at EYP Mission Critical Facilities (EYP MCF), a company of HP, a typical 20,000 square foot enterprise data center using 100 watts per square foot will have a peak cooling demand similar to that of a 200,000 sq. ft. commercial office building. Its annual energy consumption equates to a 400,000 sq. ft. office building. So business and IT managers have as much reason as anyone to be serious about efficient energy use.

“Whether you’re trying to save money or reduce your carbon footprint, your end goal is the same,” says Kosik. “If you’re only trying to save money it doesn’t mean you throw out environmental considerations, and vice versa.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report on server and data center efficiency issued in August 2007 examined data center power use and suggested ways to reduce it. “Clearly the government is treating this topic seriously,” Kosik says. “Some kind of policy will result that deals with how business technology uses energy.” For example, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to jointly designate an organization to consult with and to coordinate a voluntary national information program for energy efficiency in data centers. Regulation may be around the corner if voluntary programs don’t produce tangible results.

HP’s acquisition of EYP MCF combined that company’s expertise and portfolio of services—including facilities and technology planning, design, commissioning and ongoing operational consulting—with HP’s Data Center Transformation Services. The resulting lifecycle solution integrates environmentally sound methods for power and cooling into a data center before it’s even built, and can provide further improvements as it evolves.

Moving forward

Kosik is encouraged by how the industry is taking up the challenge. He points to organizations such as the Green Grid, a consortium whose mandate is to “improve energy efficiency in data centers around the globe.”  In addition to the Green Grid, HP is working on the development of technical standards for:

  • Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • The U.S. Department of Energy
  • The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)

All of these organizations are leaders in the research and development of data center energy and environmental topics, resulting in detailed technical standards and guidelines.

It’s at this granular level where the most interesting possibilities are. For example, Kosik believes that metrics such as data center infrastructure efficiency (DCiE) will become cornerstones of data center power efficiency planning and benchmarking. As these metrics mature, it is likely that they will be formalized as part of energy codes specific to data centers.


“The data center becomes a single power ecosystem—it becomes the ‘computer’ that you manage as a single unit.”

One of Kosik’s favorite future scenarios involves unified monitoring and control systems for all data center technology, including:

  • Hardware
  • Operating systems
  • Applications
  • Power
  • Cooling
  • Data transmission systems

The goal is to offer the potential of real-time energy management based on changing priorities, such as:

  • The cost of electricity
  • CO2 emissions
  • Application performance
  • SLA conformance

“You could have a ‘rolling’ adjustment of how power is used, tied directly into infrastructure,” he says. “This operational technology already exists on the level of the server and applications—bridging the gap to include power, cooling and environmental systems takes the idea a couple of steps further.”

HP has recently launched specialized energy efficiency services including an analysis that enables HP specialists to collect, analyze and benchmark data center energy use and provide a detailed report and recommendations on overall data center energy performance.  The service also provides data and recommendations to help customers make more informed decisions with regard to first cost and life-cycle costs. This dataset of measured power values (cutting across market sectors, reliability levels and power densities) will help to identify customers’ energy use patterns, as well as outcomes of energy efficiency improvements.

In the not-too-distant future, users could couple these analytics with systems that provide real-time power and cooling data within a data center, to enable real-time monitoring and control through a fully integrated dashboard. This could allow simulations and what-if scenarios to work out the most efficient distribution of workloads, for example, or even tie CO2 emissions to specific applications and systems.

“The data center becomes a single power ecosystem—it becomes the ‘computer’ that you manage as a single unit,” Kosik says. “Now we are teaching the computer to think green.”


Related links

»  Data Center Transformation
»  HP Data Center Transformation Services
»

Table of contents

Introduction

» Virtual for all the right reasons

Strategies

» The green standard
» Common Ground: Turning distress into ‘de-stress’

Feature

» Rethinking virtualization
» From IT tool to business enabler
» Virtualization beyond IT
» Built for virtualization
» IT leasing makes sense in tough times

Experiences

» The perfect virtual fit
» Selective outsourcing
» HP fuels The Indy Racing Experience
» Stepping up to service delivery
» The power of partnership
» Dressed for success

Solutions

» Pick-and-choose-support
» Getting the most out of outsourcing
» Teaching the data center to think green
» Storage briefs
» Data deduplication eases storage headaches

Technologies

» Mission-critical blades now available
» Taming the wild petabyte
» PDM moves up
» New 8P server addresses capacity, growth needs
» Storage for all sizes
» A SAN for all reasons
» Security without walls
» Putting petabytes to work for your company

Supplement

» The great leap forward
» Puzzled by power?
» The partner portfolio
» Server management simplified
» Two worlds as one
» The better road to open source
» Two blade servers in one
» Feedback
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