Energy Efficiency

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January 05, 2009

The Battle for Data Center Efficiency - Who Owns it?

It is clear that most every company now realizes the importance of controlling the efficiency of data center environments, regardless of company size. We are finally starting to see all IT vendors realize that they need to be part of the solution. Server vendors were the first to recognize this, since the increase in chip power consumption and heat dissipation was the first obvious problem. However, all elements in the data center need to contribute to improved power and cooling metrics.

We are finally starting to see network equipment manufacturers own up to this, with Cisco Systems Inc. starting to increase its focus and marketing on energy awareness. I also expect to see a great deal of hype and marketing in the storage community. We started to hear a lot last year about solid state disks (SSDs), which dramatically reduce power while increasing performance of storage arrays. The costs today are prohibitive to consider a complete replacement of fixed disks for most business, but I expect to see them used in niche high-performance environments and also bundled in tiered storage solutions by companies such as EMC Corp. and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS).

There is still some confusion about whether the data center environmentals are the responsibility of data centers or facilities, but there is no disagreement on the fact that both of these groups need to work very closely together to make sure current and future data center requirements are feasible from all aspects of power, cooling, IT systems performance and costs.

I have been working on several committees over the last couple years to work through the trends and best practices on these issues, including the Next Generation Data Center and the Blade Systems Insight. While the focus is shifting from being green for green's sake to being green to save money, the good news is most of my research has shown that increased attention to environmental considerations usually saves companies a tremendous amount of money, so it makes good business sense to be environmentally aware in the data center. Some of the new topics I expect to come up in future conferences are how to analyze the return on investment (ROI) for IT equipment replacement decisions, as they relate to power and cooling, and whether the dynamics for managed services change are a way for companies to look at outsourcing strategies for saving money.

The bottom line, as I see it, is that EVERYONE owns responsibility for data center efficiency, especially the responsibility for coordination across all IT disciplines and facilities management to make sure any initiatives have taken all aspects of efficiency into consideration for future data center growth.

by Jerald Murphy January 5, 2009 in Energy Efficiency
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October 21, 2008

The mainframe for mid-sized businesses

Ibm_z10_bc_2 An IBM mainframe priced at $100,000?  Yes, you read that right.  The newest System z mainframe, the z10 Business Class, is a follow up to last February's launch of the z10 Enterprise Class, and is priced and featured for mid-sized companies.

According to InformationWeek, "The system is priced at less than $100,000, making it affordable for companies in developing nations. IBM is offering zero-interest, zero-payment financing on the system for the first 90 days.  The z10 offers users big opportunities for server consolidation. It holds the capacity of up to 232 x86 servers within a footprint that's 83% smaller. One company that plans to use the system is Transzap, a provider of electronic payment services for the oil industry. 'We're a small company but our transaction data volumes are growing upwards of 100 percent, annually,' said Transzap CEO Peter Flanagan."

Caption: Created for mid-sized businesses, the IBM z10 BC simplifies commercial computer operations with "specialty engines" to run popular business and consumer applications (email, website hosting, transaction processing, etc) on one of the world's most trusted and secure computer platforms. IBM co-op student Sean Goldsmith surveys the new z10 BC mainframe in IBM's Poughkeepsie, NY, plant to add an extra 1,000 email users with the energy of a 100 watt light bulb. Goldsmith, a senior at Marist College, anticipates a bright future with the mainframe.

CRN also reported that "IBM is working with more than 130 solution providers and systems integrators worldwide who are certified to sell IBM System z mainframes. The certification of IBM System z sales and technician skills has increased 300 percent during the first half of 2008 compared with the same time period in 2007.  IBM expects about 70 percent of z10 BC sales to go through IBM's solution providers."

by Will Runyon October 21, 2008 in Design, Energy Efficiency, Power & Cooling, SysAdmins, Virtualization
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September 02, 2008

Batman, Iron Man . . . Meet Green Data Center Man

by Will Runyon September 2, 2008 in Design, Energy Efficiency, Power & Cooling, Services, SysAdmins
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July 22, 2008

Greenmonk: Data centers as energy exporters, not energy sinks!

Tom Raftery at Greenmonk recently published a thoughtful post titled Data Centers as energy exporters, not energy sinks!  Tom's post includes quotes from Intel's Nick Knupffer and Steve Sams at IBM on progress being made to reduce heat at the chip level.

Tom reports . . . "However, according to the video below, which I found on YouTube, IBM are going way further than I had thought about. They announced their Hydro-Cluster Power 575 series super computers in April. They plan to allow data centers to capture the heat from the servers and export it as hot water for swimming pools, cooking, hot showers, etc. This is how all servers should be plumbed."

by Will Runyon July 22, 2008 in Design, Energy Efficiency, Power & Cooling, SysAdmins, Who's Who
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July 02, 2008

Lessons Learned from IBM's Big Green Initiative

GreenerComputing's David Metcalfe has just published a "lessons learned" story on what IBM has learned since announcing its Project Big Green initiative in May 2007 and its Project Big Green 2.0 announcements last month.

The article reports . . . "After 12 months of customer dialogue IBM's Big Green initiative expanded from a focus on hardware energy efficiency in the data centre to a consulting-lead offering for corporate energy efficiency and carbon management. Through its customer outreach IBM learnt six lessons about the commercialization of Green IT:

1. Exploit IT's information management role.
2. Hitch Green IT to data centre refurbishment projects.
3. Tackle corporate energy efficiency and emissions.
4. Differentiate offerings by industry and country.
5. Plan for slow customer adoption.
6. Prepare for investment barriers to IT energy efficiency."

Read the whole story here.

by Will Runyon July 2, 2008 in Assessments, Design, Energy Efficiency, Power & Cooling, Services
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June 05, 2008

EPA Seeks Input on Data Center Energy Consumption

At the recent Uptime Institute Symposium in Orlando, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Andrew Fanara explained how their Energy Star Program is implementing a National Data Center Energy Efficiency Information Program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) via the EPA's Energy Star web site.  Managers of data centers can complete a series of forms that will be used to measure server energy use, power and cooling requirements, etc.  Hat tip to Matt Stansbury at

Watch more from Andrew Fanara.

by Will Runyon June 5, 2008 in Assessments, Design, Energy Efficiency, Power & Cooling, SysAdmins, Who's Who
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May 09, 2008

Data centers in a box? Skeptics abound.

Microsoft's Mike Manos delivered a keynote at the recent Data Center World spring conference.  Microsoft and Sun are both proponents of packing thousands of servers into "plug and play" 40-foot shipping containers.  Computerworld asked several industry experts what they think of this approach and Manos responds in an article titled
6 reasons why Microsoft's container-based approach to data centers won't work.

by Will Runyon May 9, 2008 in Design, Energy Efficiency, Who's Who
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April 23, 2008

Web 2.0 Companies - Meet iDataPlex

The Wall Street Journal reports that a new class of servers from IBM called iDataPlex,  designed specifically for the kinds of mega Intel-rack data centers used by Web 2.0 companies, can substantially reduce server costs and deliver more computing capability is less space and with less power required.

The iDataPlex system more than doubles the number of systems that can run in a single IBM rack, uses 40 percent less power while increasing the amount of computing capacity by a factor of five, can be outfitted with a liquid cooled wall on the back of the system to run at "room temperature" with no air conditioning required, and uses industry standard components as well as open source software such as Linux to lower costs.

Early testers include Yahoo Inc.  "Yahoo! relies on ingenuity and technology to reduce our dependence upon energy. Many of our data centers utilize 'green energy' such as passive cooling to reduce our impact," said Laurie Mann, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Operations, Yahoo!. "We continue to look for ways to maximize our resources. Yahoo! appreciates the direction IBM is moving in with iDataPlex and its commitment to drive greater power efficiency and density in the datacenter."

by Will Runyon April 23, 2008 in Design, Energy Efficiency, Power & Cooling
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April 20, 2008

Virtualization Strategy

With all due credit to Scott Adams.


by Will Runyon April 20, 2008 in Energy Efficiency, Virtualization
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April 09, 2008

Back to the Future

Remember water-cooled mainframes?  Well, water is still among the best ways to cool large systems.  But now it makes more sense to cool systems with water as close to the heat as possible.  IBM has just announced a new Power Systems UNIX server, the Power 575, nicknamed "Hydro-Cluster," that pipes water to the chip itself, vastly reducing power and cooling requirements.

According to CNET, "A substantial part of the decrease in power consumption is due to a water cooling system that brings in chilled water from the outside, runs it through copper plates located above individual processors to absorb heat, and then draws the water out so it can expel the heat outside of the computer.

By getting rid of heat in this manner, the air conditioning requirements are greatly reduced for the "hydro cluster" 575. Air conditioning can account for roughly half of the power consumed by data centers. Conversely, instead of cutting electricity consumption, IBM, or one of its customers, could squeeze in more computing power into the same room and keep the air conditioning constant."

The new POWER6 "Hydro-Cluster" supercomputer, the Power 575, is designed to solve challenging problems in fields such as energy, aerospace and weather modeling. The  system is another breakthrough in green IT.  In addition to its advance water-cooling, it packs 448 processor cores per rack and delivers nearly five times the performance and more than three times the energy efficiency of its predecessor, IBM's POWER5+™ processor-based p575 supercomputer.

by Will Runyon April 9, 2008 in Design, Energy Efficiency, Power & Cooling
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