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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 SearchDataCenter.com.

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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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 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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April 04, 2008

Build a Data Center, Heat the Town Pool

That's what a new data center in Zurich, Switzerland will do with its 2,800 megawatts of excess heat - keep swimmers warm by reusing about 90 percent of the electricity needed to run the data center by reclaiming the heat produced, and save 130 tons of CO2 emissions in the process.  This is one of the three latest green data center projects that IBM is building as part of its Project Big Green initiative.

The other two data centers are being built for kika/Leiner, a green furniture company in St. Polten, Austria; and Telecom Egypt in Cairo.

Green_data_center_2 kika/Leiner's data center is a free-standing cube with about 1,000 square feet of IT space that fulfills all state-of-the-art technical security requirements of a data center. It is locked, has no windows, is equipped with an automatic fire-extinguishing system, and is protected against flooding. The data center does not contain any working space and entrance is restricted. Free cooling will be used in cold months, meaning the air conditioning for the data center will come directly from the cold outside air. Only on warm days will the data center be automatically cooled.

The data center features racks with the newest IBM BladeCenter technology. IBM BladeCenter integrates servers, networks, storage and business applications in highly efficient one-inch systems that sit in a rack like books in a shelf.  Hot air is reduced to room temperature by water-cooled heat exchangers attached to the BladeCenter racks. The high density area covers about a third of the data center IT space and, if required, can be extended. Another third of the data center is space for conventional computing servers with low heat emissions. The last third will remain empty for future expansion.

With more than 10 million customers, Telecom Egypt is the country's largest telecom company.  According to Khaled Marmoush, it's CIO, "Telecom Egypt was convinced that IBM was the best choice because of IBM's standards and methodologies and the experience of the IBM team who worked as a trusted consultant.  IBM provided not only the information about data centers that Telecom Egypt was looking for, but also the technologies and services that are used in today's data centers."

by Will Runyon April 4, 2008 in Design, Energy Efficiency, Power & Cooling, Services, Who's Who
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November 02, 2007

World's First Energy Efficiency Certificate Program for Data Centers

In speaking with literally hundreds of customers worldwide, it's clear that there are three key motivators to improve the energy efficiency of IT.

The first is economic.  Data centers can consume 15 times more energy per square foot than a typical office building and, in some cases, can be 100 times more energy intensive.  This means there is a real incentive to improve IT efficiency to lower costs.

The second is operational concerns.  Many customers simply cannot get more power into their data center or dissipate the heat being generated by today's technologies.

The third is the rapid rise of environmental responsibility agendas within companies of all sizes in every geography.  CIOs and IT managers are now being asked to  contribute to the energy efficiency and carbon footprint reduction commitments being made at a corporate level. 

The challenge many companies face is monitoring and verifying their efficiency efforts in their data centers.  Now there's something new that can do this for you.

IBM's Energy Efficiency Certificates Program lets you earn certificates when you reduce the energy needed to run your data center.  The certificates, earned through IBM's partner Neuwing Energy Ventures,  provide third-party verification of progress toward a company's energy efficiency goals and can be traded for cash or other credit on the energy certificate market.  So you can save on costs and improve your company's environmental credentials. 

See this video on this new program

Will energy efficiency credits make a difference for your company?  Let's hear your thoughts.

Rich Lechner

by Will Runyon November 2, 2007 in Design, Energy Efficiency, Power & Cooling, Services
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October 08, 2007

Big Blue Going Green

ElectricityWhen you click on a link, a server in a datacenter somewhere gets the job of finding the web page or process you requested and delivering it to your browser over the Internet. One user on the Internet and one server at the other end serving one web page is quite trivial. With millions of users around the world visiting the web site at unpredictable times and making unpredictable requests for millions of documents, pictures, music, videos, processes and transactions, it can become a nightmare for the people who are managing the datacenter. In the last five years there has been a six-fold increase in computing capacity and a 160 fold increase in storage. Along with the increase in capacity comes a huge increase in complexity and in electrical power usage.

Imagine looking through a window into a corporate datacenter (even though many of them are underground and have no windows) and you would see thousands of steel boxes mounted in six-foot-high racks with cables everywhere. This part of the problem has been addressed by new technology called virtualization, pioneered by IBM decades ago but greatly refined in recent years. (See "Virtually Real or Really Virtual"). Imagine a virtual datacenter. When you peer through the window you see three boxes -- a server, a disk storage device, and a network card. There is a person at a large video console who is looking at what appears to be a dashboard. It shows a pictorial diagram of all the things going on in the datacenter. When one application area needs more server, storage, or network capacity the virtual datacenter automatically re-allocates capacity from another application area that currently has excess capacity. The virtual datacenter keeps resources balanced, and when a component fails, the virtual datacenter automatically allocates a spare or underutilized component to take over. Virtual environments allow a big reduction in complexity but the even bigger problem is the huge growth in electrical power. In many cases companies are not able to get the additional power they need either because the power company does not have the capacity or because the datacenter is not designed to accommodate the physical changes necessary. Even if the power was readily available there is a negative impact on the environment. Hence, Big Green.

IBM is redirecting $1 billion per year across its businesses, mobilizing the company’s resources to dramatically increase the level of energy efficiency in IT. The plan includes new products and services to enable IBM clients to sharply reduce data center energy consumption and make them more “green”. The problem is sizable. Big companies spend tons of money on power. In IBM's case it is a half billion dollars per year. The priority has been on getting the servers and storage that are needed to achieve various business results -- need another feature for the web site, throw in another server. Have growth in web visitors -- throw some more servers at it.

IBM is leading by example. One of their "green" projects is consolidating 3,900 servers onto 30 new top of the line mainframe servers. The result is not only more compute power but dramatically less use of electrical power and space. One of IBM's customers went from 300 servers to six. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center consolidated 1,000 servers onto 300 and saved $20m in costs while freeing up datacenter space for more hospital beds.

Datacenters have been popping up everywhere -- most of them built before 2001. The datacenters are very large rooms full of many different kinds of equipment -- designed in the same way they were decades ago -- like a kitchen where the stove puts out more heat so you turn on the air conditioning to cool down the entire room. The chef is comfortable and others in the room are freezing. IBM is designing datacenters for customers where cooling "zones" are specific to the type of equipment in each zone. Green datacenters not only save space and energy but also benefits the environment overall. In the past the electric bill has been allocated as overhead to all parts of the company. Redesigns are saving many millions of dollars. With the huge growth of energy for the IT infrastructure the CFO is reallocating energy expenditures from general overhead to the CIO so they can see what IT is really costing.

IBM has made a sizeable consulting business out of helping customers understand their energy usage and then designing and supervising the building of new Datacenters and cooling equipment. Having overseen the construction of thirty million square feet of advanced space, IBM has learned a lot. The virtualization is helping a lot too. It can now optimize the use of servers around energy use. For example, as workload declines, perhaps at night, servers can be virtualized and "moved" to underutilized servers and then automatically turn off the servers that are not needed for a few hours.

(See other IBM Happenings)

by John R Patrick October 8, 2007 in Design, Energy Efficiency, Power & Cooling, Services, SysAdmins, Virtualization
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