The Vendor Challenge
Top tech vendors aren't far behind the need to stem the tide of rising energy usage with server virtualization tools and state-of-the-art server cooling services. Hewlett-Packard Co. began offering a service called thermal zone mapping to help customers identify airflows and mixing patterns inside the data center. The service creates a three-dimensional image of a data center that shows the "zones of influence" of a computer room air conditioner (CRAC). The service's target customer is a company with 50 blade servers or 10 10-kilowatt racks.
"These customers will run into heat and cost issues they've never thought about before," says Brian Brouillette, a vice president with HP Services. Average cost for the highest level of thermal zone mapping, including thermal sensors: $100,000. Armed with this knowledge, CIOs can move CRACs and servers to achieve optimal cooling.
Meanwhile, at LinuxWorld in San Francisco this year, IBM announced that dozens of customers had bought IBM tools that consolidate Unix and x86 workloads onto IBM System p servers. The tools aim to help customers such as Volkswagen and Telefonica Moviles, a mobile operator in Spain, become more energy efficient. "It balances better for each service, each server," says Miguel Angel Garcia Hafner, technology manager for value-added services at Telefonica Moviles.
HP and IBM have also launched massive data center consolidation projects of their own to lower energy costs and contain carbon emissions -- and to act as proof points for their energy-efficient offerings. HP consolidated 87 data centers into six, while IBM plans to consolidate 3,900 servers onto 33 System z mainframes running Linux. Dubbed "Big Green," IBM's $1 billion project includes building a state-of-the-art data center in Colorado. "We'll double our compute and data capacity without increasing our power consumption or carbon footprint," says Richard Lechner, vice president of IT optimization at IBM.
The Green Light
HP and IBM are among the tech companies that have banded together this year to ride the green wave by forming a nonprofit consortium, The Green Grid. The consortium is developing ways to measure and benchmark a data center's energy efficiency. It's a daunting task that covers many parts of energy consumption: CPUs, power supplies, servers, applications, building construction and humidity, among others. In addition to standard data center energy measurements, The Green Grid wants to create a green seal of approval for individual technology products, says Colette LaForce, vice president of marketing at Rackable Systems Inc. and a Green Grid board member. Other Green Grid members include Microsoft, Sun Microsystems Inc., Dell Inc., Intel Corp., Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) and VMware Inc.
This was first published in November 2007