Data Center Environmentals – Extreme Makeover Part 1
by David Merrill on Jun 25, 2012
I am speaking at 2 IT events this week in Australia, both focused on power reduction in the data center. Australia has some fascinating and steep challenges ahead as power rates rise at high rates (30% pa) and carbon taxes are now in place. Recent legislation, among other things, has put reducing of power and cooling costs clearly in the cross-hairs of IT managers and CIOs in this part of the world.
While watching part of a rugby match on the TV, there were several commercials for home-based solar panel/inverters from the local home improvement stores. These initiatives are being applied (and felt) in the data centers and by homeowners. Below are some links to the energy efficiency initiatives here in Australia:
My contribution to these panel discussions will involve the economics and options available to reduce power and data center infrastructure costs. I won’t be announcing any new power technologies available within storage arrays, but proven methods and tactics to reduce the cost of power as a unit of storage TCO. My approach is based on the fact that data is growing (30-80% pa) and these growth rates cannot be replicated in electricity consumption, so new architectures and methods have to be deployed in order to deliver significant unit cost reductions related to environmental costs.
The following quote comes from a US Dept of Energy paper on energy efficiency in the data center. The storage section is not rich with ideas, but does convey common sense information on how storage correlates to power growth and ideas for reduction.
Storage Devices Power consumption is roughly linear to the number of storage modules used. Storage redundancy needs to be rationalized and right-sized to avoid rapid scale up in size and power consumption. Consolidating storage drives into a Network Attached Storage or Storage Area Network are two options that take the data that does not need to be readily accessed and transports it offline. Taking superfluous data offline reduces the amount of data in the production environment, as well as all the copies. Consequently, less storage and CPU requirements on the servers are needed, which directly corresponds to lower cooling and power needs in the data center.
For data that cannot be taken offline, it is recommended to upgrade from traditional storage methods to thin provisioning. In traditional storage systems an application is allotted a fixed amount of anticipated storage capacity, which often results in poor utilization rates and wasted energy. Thin provisioning technology, in contrast, is a method of maximizing storage capacity utilization by drawing from a common pool of purchased shared storage on an as-need basis, under the assumption that not all users of the storage pool will need the entire space simultaneously. This also allows for extra physical capacity to be installed at a later date as the data approaches the capacity threshold.
I hope to cover a few more practical and deep-dive topics beyond some of the obvious options. My framework for this type of storage/power consumption discussion is based on 3 key action areas:
- Optimize utilization
- New architectures
This outline is centered and isolating storage infrastructure. If we open the aperture to include converged solutions, virtual machines and integrated stacks, the environmental options can expand to include a much wider array of topics. I will explain more of these 3 pillars in my next blog post later in the week.