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IBM launches services to fix power waste in data centers

IBM is launching a series of services to evaluate data-center power and cooling costs, and cut them by reducing waste. The services are available independent of other IBM contracts, and the company intends to recruit "select" resellers.

IBM has launched a new set of services designed to slash the amount of money end-user companies waste every year powering and cooling their data centers.

The services include an assessment of how ready an existing data center is to support high-density computing products, such as blade servers, which generate much more heat per square foot than other designs. IBM also offers thermal analysis of existing high-density installations and a set of evaluation and planning services to help customers reconfigure or relocate their data centers.

The other two "services" are primarily product packages. They include an integrated rack set customers can order in various configurations for high-density computing installations, and a modular data center product set so small and midsized companies can build their data centers gradually.

The need for power use evaluation and management is extreme, according to a study from The Uptime Institute, a membership-driven research organization. The study found the amount of electricity used by U.S. data centers rose 39% between 1999 and 2005, but that much of it was wasted.

That increase can be attributed to the additional power used by servers and storage

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hardware, according to International Data Corp. analyst Vernon Turner. But most of it comes from the ongoing consolidation of computing power into the data center, rather than in departmental servers.

In general, according to figures from American Power Conversion, IDC and others, it takes at least as much power to cool a server as it does to run it -- sometimes 150% as much.

That power is being consolidated into servers that take less space, use more power and generate more heat than ever before, but customers aren't prepared for the increases in density.

The Uptime study indicated 90% of companies had too much cooling capacity in their data centers, but still had hot spots within the cooled areas.

The biggest part of that problem is that most companies misestimate the amount of cooling required and install hardware poorly, according to the study, which indicated as much as 80% of the power used to cool a data center is wasted by poor routing of cool and hot air.

IBM's five services are designed to fix that. Split off from the general IBM Global Services menu of consulting and implementation services, they will be sold as standalone products that don't necessarily depend on IBM contracts, a company spokesman said.

IBM does plan to recruit "select" channel partners to deliver some of the services, and customers can go through their favorite value-added reseller (VAR) to buy the IBM services, the spokesman said. But IBM's current plan is to fulfill them all directly.

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