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By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2007-09-12 Print this article Print

Virtualization of servers and storage is becoming a must in data centers. Simply put, this means capturing computing resources and running them on shared physical infrastructure in such a way that each appears to exist in its own separate physical environment. This happens by treating storage and computing resources as an aggregate pool from which networks, systems and applications can be drawn on an as-needed basis. EMCs VMware, Microsoft and the open-source Xen are the three largest players in this realm. By using virtualization software correctly, the consolidation of under-utilized servers goes unnoticed by the user and significantly reduces power consumption.
Deduplication and thin provisioning are also must-use tools in the green and scalable data center. Data deduplication eliminates redundant data throughout the storage network and adds a high level of efficiency and cost-effectiveness within the network.
Thin provisioning is a method of storage resource management and virtualization that lets IT administrators limit the allocation of actual physical storage to what applications immediately need. It enables the automatic addition of capacity on demand up to preset limits so that IT departments can avoid buying and managing excessive amounts of disk storage. EqualLogic, Hitachi Data Systems, EMC, NetApp, 3PAR and Comm-Vault all offer thin provisioning for either SAN (storage area network) or iSCSI storage systems. This will become an important factor in the green data centers yet to be built. Step 5: Turn it off whenever possible. With everything mentioned above in place, you can go ahead and "turn on" your data center. Just be sure that everything in it can be turned off whenever possible. "If you have the right management and automation systems, then you will be able to turn it [systems or parts of systems] cleanly," said Kevin Epstein, vice president of marketing for Scalent Systems, in Palo Alto, Calif. "This is opposed to the old idea, Gee, its up and running—dont touch it! "Companies cant afford to run all their systems 24/7, and they shouldnt," Epstein added. "This is versus a scenario where things are cyclical, like transaction systems versus e-mail systems. You power down the spindles you dont need when you dont need them. Then, when you really need the power and capacity, you have it ready to go." Scalent Systems software enables data centers to react in real time to changing business needs by dynamically changing what servers are running and how those servers are connected to network and storage. The result is an adaptive infrastructure (similar to HPs vision) where data centers can transition between different configurations—or from bare metal to live, connected servers—in 5 minutes or less, without physical intervention. U.S. data centers are now eating up about 61 billion kilowatt hours at a cost of $4.5 billion per year, according to a new EPA task force report. Another report, commissioned by London-based 1E and researched by the Alliance to Save Energy, found that U.S. companies consume one third of that number—19.8 billion kilowatt hours at a cost of about $1.72 billion—simply from leaving personal computers on overnight. Again, these are only corporate desktop computers—not servers, laptops or mainframe machines. When it comes to controlling an enterprise worth of PCs, 1E is a specialist. The companys centrally controlled Windows power management software automates PC hibernation, shutdown, wakeup and patch management from the server. 1E is already helping companies like Allstate, HSBC and Verizon save millions of dollars in PC power consumption, just by automating the powering down of hundreds or thousands of PCs when theyre not needed. 1E has a Vista-ready product coming soon. On the server side, Cassatt offers an appliance-based, software-agnostic platform that automates power efficiencies specifically in the data center through pre-established policies. It can automatically turn off or power down as many as 400 servers on nights and weekends, allow only those servers needed for current demand to be running, and power systems down in the event of a brownout (or high-use local capacity) situation. Typically, there is far more storage available to users than they appreciate or understand. Sun completed a study performed at 200 user sites globally. In the study, tools were installed to uncover the allocation and utilization efficiency. The results were surprising: On average, about 70 percent of disk space is simply wasted. Companies such as MonoSphere, Asigra and Onaro offer high-level storage allocation, provisioning and reporting software, with varying additional service options. A number of Fortune 1000 companies are now using these tools, and, as time goes on and more and more data is stored, the value of trustworthy provisioning software is going to continue to rise. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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