Going green in the data center

Energy savings is a particularly important topic for the data center, where you must help customers reduce power and cooling costs.

Barb Goldworm
With the cost of power and cooling today -- along with the fact that many customers are maxed out on power and HVAC -- energy savings due to increased efficiencies has been a hot topic. Added to the basic cost factors are an increased social awareness from influences like An inconvenient Truth and the desire to go green. Organizations like the Green Grid on working on going green at a industry level, while chip, server and power-related vendors are working to improve the efficiencies of their products. The focus has shifted from basic understanding of how much power you need, to analyzing the performance-per-watt capability of one vendor's server over another.

Interestingly, the high density of blade servers has driven forward momentum in this area, due to the increase in power and cooling requirements per square foot. This comes with high-density computing, even though server for server, blades are more efficient and use less power and cooling than their counterpart rack servers).

There have been significant advances in thermal sensing and active management of components relative to both power and heat. New techniques involve granular sensing and power management, allowing components to power down as possible and/or needed based on lower utilization or thresholds reached.

Big players like IBM and HP continue to engage in debates over whose blades save more energy according to someone's latest benchmark study. In fact, benchmarks, like most statistics, can be skewed to tell the desired story by choosing the tests carefully. The only real way to tell how various products will perform a particular customer workload is of course to benchmark that workload. Many large users today are engaging in bake-offs between server vendors; winners depend on many complex contributing factors.

As discussed in my recent columns on power and cooling, there are many things to consider in going green in addition to the green capabilities of the server itself. Examples include hot-aisle, cold-aisle configurations, making data center cooling more efficient through such things as blanking panels and improved cable management, and potentially even DC power.

Technology trends in processors and servers

 Home: Introduction
 1: Multi-core processor benefits and trends
 2: Going green in the data center
 3: Licensing for multi-core processors and virtualization

Blades and Virtualization Summit: For more in-depth, up-to-date information on server chip issues, power and cooling improvements, futures in virtualization, blade server implementation and more, consider the Blades and Virtualization Summit on May 1-3. You'll hear from and connect with blade server hardware and virtualization software vendors, power and cooling companies, TechTarget expert panelists, and other experts on the latest products and services related to these technologies.

Barb Goldworm
Barb Goldworm is President of Focus Consulting, a research, analyst and consulting firm focused on systems and storage. She has spent 30 years in technical, marketing, industry analyst and senior management positions with IBM, Novell, StorageTek, Enterprise Management Associates, and multiple successful startups. She chairs the Blades and Virtualization Summit conference on blades and virtualization, and has been one of the top three ranked analyst/knowledge expert speakers at Storage Networking World. Barb has authored numerous business and technical white papers and articles and has just finished a book, Blades Servers and Virtualization: Transforming Enterprise Computing While Cutting Costs. Email Barb for more information.
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