My recent columns for end users on blade and virtualization myths, and power and cooling best practices, have brought to light power and cooling myths involving blades and virtualization. One of the key recommendations I give to users is that they choose their reseller and integrator partners carefully, ensuring that they are up to date on these technologies, to avoid making bad decisions based on early product releases and old data. Both blade and virtualization technologies have changed dramatically over the past few years, and I hear of many channel professionals being current in one area while running on old information in the other -- thus giving outdated advice to clients.
In fact, because of the many misconceptions, users are clearly looking to strong partners for help implementing these technologies, making the service opportunities and margins quite good. Here are a few ideas to consider.
Users need to be educated on both the realistic energy benefits of consolidation and the potential for increased power and cooling of high-density solutions. For example, a reasonable consolidation ratio might offer five to 10 legacy servers to one new blade server. That blade server will likely require less power and cooling than a comparable rack server, with increased efficiency over previous servers. However, when populating blade server chassis into a rack, the rack may now require 20-30kW.
These changes in power and cooling will require careful assessments and data center planning, including evaluation of such things as DC power options, hot aisle and cold aisle implementation, blanking panels, racks with built-in cooling, bypass airflow and possibly supplemental cooling. These represent service opportunities for the channel; you may offer expertise, assessments, planning tools and recommendations on best practices, or act as a partner and liaison to companies such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Liebert Corporation (Emerson Network Power), American Power Conversion (APC), Eaton Corporation, MGE UPS Systems, etc.
In addition to working with the big players, it is worth keeping an eye on the innovators and innovations in power and cooling, including companies like Pentadyne and Active Power.
Planning tools for ROI analysis and power and cooling estimates before and after consolidation help users plan their implementations. Tools are available from various hardware and software vendors, but many users look to knowledgeable third parties for vendor-neutral help and integrated services.
Depending on the consolidation ratios (number of virtual servers consolidated onto physical servers), users can achieve significant savings in power and cooling. In a recent analysis of several VMware user case studies, VMware claims 80 percent reductions in both power and cooling as a result of consolidation (though many believe this to be high). This, however, should not be confused with overall total cost of ownership (TCO) improvements, which might be more in the 20 to 30 percent range. In any case, these savings offer both immediate and long term savings, and good payback for investing in a consolidation project.
Independent information is available from groups like the Uptime Institute as a resource to your professional staff. They help users understand issues and evaluate their power and cooling needs as they upgrade to new technologies.
For more in-depth, up-to-date information on blade and virtualization implementation, planning advice, ROI analysis and best practices, as well as power, cooling and management issues, consider the Blades and Virtualization Summit on May 1-3. You'll hear from and connect with blade hardware and virtualization software vendors, power and cooling companies, Tech Target expert panelists, and other experts on the latest products and services related to these technologies.
About the author: 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 Server Blade 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.