Nowadays, CIOs need to both cut costs and increase performance.
Energy has never been more important in working toward this
It's now time for IT leaders to gain control over energy
use—and misuse—in enterprise data centers. More often
than not, very little
energy capacity analysis and planning is being done on data
centers that are five years old or older. Even newer data centers
don’t always gather and analyze the available
energy data being created amid all of the components.
Finally, smarter, more comprehensive energy planning tools and
processes are being directed at this problem. It requires a
lifecycle approach from the data centers to more toward fuller
And so automation software for capacity planning and monitoring
has been newly designed and improved to best match long-term
energy needs and resources in ways that cut total costs, while
gaining the available capacity from old and
new data centers.
Such data gathering, analysis and planning can break the
inefficiency cycle that plagues many data centers where hotspots
can mismatch cooling needs, and underused and under-needed
servers are burning up energy needlessly. These so-called Smart
Grid solutions jointly cut data center energy costs, reduce
carbon emissions, and can dramatically free up capacity from
overburdened or inefficient infrastructure.
By gaining far more control over energy use and misuse, solutions
such as Hewlett Packard's (HP)
Smart Grid for Data Center can increase capacity from
existing facilities by 30–50 percent.
This podcast features two executives from HP to delve more deeply
into the notion of Smart Grid for Data Center. Now join Doug
Oathout, Vice President of Green IT Energy Servers and
Storage at HP, and
John Bennett, Worldwide Director of Data Center
Transformation Solutions at HP. The discussion is moderated by
Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Here are some excerpts:
Data center transformation (DCT) is focused on three core
concepts, and energy is another key focus for that all to work.
The drivers behind data center transformation are customers who
are trying to
reduce their overall IT spending, either flowing it to the
bottom-line or, in most cases, trying to shift that spending away
from management and maintenance and onto business projects.
We also see increasing mandates to improve sustainability. It
might be expressed as energy efficiency in handling energy costs
more effectively or addressing green IT.
DCT is really about helping customers build out a data center
an infrastructure strategy. That is aligned to their business
plans and goals and objectives. That infrastructure might be a
traditional shared infrastructure model. It might be a fabric
infrastructure model of which HP’s converged
infrastructure is probably the best and most complete example of
that in the marketplace today. And, it may indeed be moving to
private cloud or, as I believe, some combination of the above for
a lot of customers.
The secret is doing so through an integrated roadmap of
data-center projects, like consolidation, business continuity,
energy, and such technology initiatives as virtualization and
Energy has definitely been a major issue for data-center
customers over the past several years. The increased computing
capability and demand has increased the power needed in the data
center. Many data centers today weren’t designed
for modern energy consumption requirements. Even data centers
that were designed even five years ago are running out of power,
as they move to these dense infrastructures. Of course, older
facilities are even further challenged. So, customers can address
energy by looking at their facilities.
Increasingly, we're finding that we need to look at
management—managing the infrastructure and managing the
facilities in order to address the energy cost issues and the
increasing role of regulation and to manage energy related risk
in the data center.
That brings us not only to energy as a key initiative in DCT, but
on Smart Grid for Data Center as a key way of managing it
effectively and dynamically.
Oathout: We're really talking about is a problem
around energy capacity in data centers. Most IT professionals or
IT managers never see an energy bill from the utility. It's
usually handled by the facility. They never really concentrate on
solving the energy consumption problem.
Where problems have arisen in the past is when a facility person
says that they can’t deploy the next server or
storage unit, because
they're out of capacity to build that new infrastructure to
support a line of business. They have to
build a new data center. What we're seeing now is customers
starting to peel the onion back a little bit, trying to find out
where the energy is going, so they can increase the life of their
To date, very few clients have deployed comprehensive software
strategies or facility strategies to corral this energy
consumption problem. Customers are turning their focus to how
much energy is being absorbed by what and then, how do they get
the capacity of the data center increase so they can support the
What we're seeing today is that software, hardware, and people
need to come together in a process that John described in DCT, an
energy audit, or energy management.
All those things need to come together, so that customers can now
start taking apart their data center, from an analysis
perspective, to find out where they are either over-provisioned
or under-provisioned, from a capacity standpoint, so they know
where all the energy is going. Then, they can then take some
steps to get more capability out of their current solution or get
more capability out of their installed equipment by measuring and
monitoring the whole environment.
The concept of converged infrastructure applies to data center
energy management. You can deploy a particular workload onto an
IT infrastructure that is optimally designed to run efficiently
and optimally designed to continually run in an efficient way, so
that you know you're getting the most productive work from the
least energy and the more energy efficient equipment
infrastructure sitting underneath it.
As workloads grow over time, you then have the auditing
capability built into the software ... so that you can add more
resources to that pool to run that application. You're not
over-provisioning from the start and you're not
under-provisioning, but you're getting the optimal settings over
time. That's what's really important for energy, as well as
efficiency, as well as operating within a data center
You must have tools, software, and hardware that is not only
efficient, but can be optimized and run in an optimized way over
a long period of time.
The key to that is to understand where the power is going. One of
the first things we recommend to a client is to look at how much
power is being brought into a data center and then where is it
What you want to do is start collecting that information through
software to find out how much power is being absorbed by the
different pieces of IT equipment and associate that with the
workloads that are running on them. Then, you have a better view
of what you're doing and how much energy you're using.
Then, you can do some analysis and use some applications like
HP SiteScope to do some performance analysis, to say, "Could
I match that workload to some other platform in the
infrastructure or am I running it in optimal way?"
Over time, what you can do is you can migrate some of your older
legacy workloads to more efficient newer IT equipment, and
therefore you are basically building up a buffer in your data
center, so that you can then go deploy new workloads in that same
You use that software to your benefit, so that you're freeing up
capacity, so that you can support the new workload that the
The energy curve today is growing at about 11 percent annually,
and that's the amount IT is spending on energy in a data center.
Bennett: That's really key, Doug, as a concept,
because the more you do at this infrastructure level, the less
you need to change the facilities themselves. Of course, the
issue with facilities-related work is that it can affect both
quality of service and outages and may end up costing you a
pretty penny, if you have to retrofit or design new data centers.
Oathout: Smart Grid for Data Centers gives a CIO
or a data-center manager a blueprint to manage the energy being
consumed within their infrastructure. The first thing that we do
with a Data Center Smart Grid is map out what is hooked up to
electricity in the data center, everything from PDUs, UPSs, and
error handlers to the IT equipment servers, networking and
storage. It's really understanding how that all works together
and how the whole topology comes together.
The second thing we do is visualize all the data. It's very hard
to say that this server, that server, or that piece of facilities
equipment uses this much power and has this kind of capacity. You
really need to see the holistic picture, so you know where the
energy is being used and understand where the issues are within a
It's really about visualizing that data, so you can take action
on it. Then, it's about setting up policies and automating those
procedures to reduce the energy consumption or to manage energy
consumption that you have in the data center.
Today, our servers and our storage are much more efficient than
the ones we had three or four years ago, but we also add the
capability to power cap a lot of the IT equipment. Not only can
you get an analysis that says, "Here is how much energy is being
consumed," you can actually set caps on the IT equipment that
says you can’t use more than this. Not only can
you monitor and manage your power envelope, you can actually get
a very predictable one by capping everything in your data center.
You know exactly, how much the max power is going to be for all
that equipment. Therefore, you can do much better planning. You
get much more efficiency out of your data center, and you get
more predictable results, which is one of the things that IT
really strives for, from an SLA to getting those predictable
results, day in and day out.
So, really Data Center Smart Grid for the infrastructure is about
mapping the infrastructure. It's about visualizing it to make
decisions. Then, it's about automating and capping what
you’ve got, so you have better predictable
results and you're managing it, so that you are not having out
wires, you're not having problems in your data centers, and
you're meeting your SLA.
Listen to the podcast.
Find it on
iTunes/iPod. Read a
full transcript or
download a copy.