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The green storage opportunity: Power savings in every project

No matter where you stand on the political aspects of going green, there is one indisputable fact: It costs money to power storage, and the cost of that power is not going to get cheaper. Additionally, government regulations may drive up the cost to power that storage at some point in the near future. Compounding this is the fact that many customers in major metropolitan areas simply can't get additional power run to their data center. All of this leads to a significant opportunity for resellers to help their customers improve power savings in storage hardware.

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Advice for end users and solution providers

A recent article by James Damoulakis does an excellent job of pointing out to end users the obvious and not-so-obvious methods to green up the data center. Each of James' eight points could and should be a feature-length article in and of itself. But resellers need to think about the issue a little differently, working the green philosophy into their business model.

Green storage everywhere

Your best approach to the green opportunity is to not wait for a specific green project to occur. While those may exist, you should consider power efficiency for every project you propose. As you interact with a customer, make sure you understand what their pressures are related to green initiatives. While many won't have a specific green requirement, most if not all will have concern over powering their data center. So don't start and end the conversation with "Do you have a green initiative?" Instead, start with power-related questions. Starting a conversation about power efficiency can start the ball rolling with the customer, so don't be surprised if one project to increase power savings leads to another.

Regardless of the situation, every project you do with a customer should communicate how well that project will help the company increase power savings.

Beyond marketing

While there is certainly a marketing aspect to the green concept, it is actually more technical in nature. Math has to be applied. A great example of this comes from James' article: "A study by EMC Corp. last year indicated that storing a terabyte of data on a 7,200 rpm 1 TB SATA drive is 94% more efficient than storing it on a 15,000 rpm 73 GB Fibre Channel (FC) drive." Not only should your engineering team provide this kind of analysis when putting together project proposals, but this info should be available on all the products you offer. And, if you're involved in managed services, it's important to point out that the more managed services you handle for a customer, the more on-site power savings they'll see. Make sure to quantify this savings and include it in your proposal. Data like this can have a tremendous impact on your ability to make a deal happen.

While you're typically not going to build a business around the green concept, you definitely can use it to buttress the other areas of your business.

Here is James Damoulakis' story on green storage best practices:

Green storage best practices control costs, increase energy efficiency

By implementing the following green storage best practices, firms can use a mixture of technologies and tactics to control data center power and cooling costs and increase their storage energy efficiency.

  • Avoid overspending and overprovisioning. It's obvious that spinning disk is the source of most storage power consumption, and unused spinning disk represents wasted energy. But there are several challenges in growing storage incrementally, including the organization's ability to accurately forecast storage capacity needs. Beyond capacity planning, it requires a relationship with a vendor who can support the incremental storage growth. The technology must also allow the storage to expand easily and with minimal disruption.

Read the rest of James Damoulakis' story on increasing power savings with green storage best practices.

About the author

George Crump is president and founder of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. With 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the United States, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland, George was chief technology officer at one of the nation's largest storage integrators, where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection. Find Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement here.

This was first published in July 2009

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