Energy

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2007-10-12 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


-Efficient"> Andrew Fanara is in a great position. As director of the Energy Star Product Specifications Development Team for the Environmental Protection Agency, the Seattle-based Fanara is, in effect, the EPAs chief evangelist to the server manufacturing industry. Thus, he is charged with getting everybody to agree that we all need to save electrical power. Nobody is going to argue that point, but theres a lot more to it than that. Fanara has been traversing the nation for more than a year, talking to, among many others, manufacturers of server boxes and their components, power-supply makers and software companies. Everybody agrees that green is good for the data center but getting there requires strategy changes and substantial investment on the part of a large number of companies. Companies that make servers, switches and storage appliances for data centers—anything run by microprocessors—are being asked by the EPA to use components that require less electrical power (such as Intel and AMDs dual- and quad-core chips) and to continue experimenting with the latest power, cooling and design ideas that the industry has to offer.
Fanara and Energy Star have stepped up and offered to be a sort of governmental "guiding light" for server manufacturers without playing favorites among companies and products. Fanara has said that Energy Star will encourage various local and regional financial incentive programs to get this important ball rolling.
Senior Writer Chris Preimesberger caught up with Fanara at the Data Center World conference in Dallas last month to discuss these programs and more. Are there any server companies that arent coming aboard with the Energy Star program? I think that everybodys going to be right there with us. Its true that weve talked to certain folks more than others, but I think its fair to say that all of the folks who are the market leaders—together with a lot of second-tier and even some foreign companies—are going to be on board. Sometimes its just a question of finding the right group to talk to.
In [the IT sector], it has been extremely easy—it has been no work at all. Whereas in so many sectors, over a lot of years, weve been banging on a lot of doors. Oftentimes, the common refrain in the past has been: "Well, when my customers start asking for this, well do something about it." Those kinds of responses tend to be more and more in the minority now. In the [IT] sector, its clear that people who operate data centers have been saying to the vendors, "You know, were just amazed at how much the electricity bills are. We are totally unprepared for this type of cost. Youve got to help us out and do something." This surprise at increasing power bills is a common refrain. And as a result, the vendors seem very anxious to talk to us—which is very, very rare, because what Energy Star does is identify the best of breed. Oftentimes, its a little uncomfortable for manufacturers of products to not be considered best of breed. So that light that we shine on people sometimes makes them—and others—a little uncomfortable. This also makes other folks very aggressive and makes them want to make sure their products are up to standards. IBM, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard all have consolidated data centers. Have you had a chance to take a look at any of them? Ive not been inside any of those facilities. But, clearly, there are folks in the industry who are taking a leadership role. I would expect, given the breadth of knowledge that an HP has, that they saw a real opportunity there. Ive heard that consolidating 85 data centers down to six [which is what HP did over the last few months] turns out to save a huge amount of money. Even for a company thats approaching $100 billion [in revenue], it is significant, and theyre very, very pleased. What are the formulas the EPA is using to quantify energy savings? Thats a good question. The simple ratio of total energy consumption of the data center over IT consumption: In the numerator, it is everything plus the IT—assuming you have a data center subunit in which you know what the numbers actually are—divided by the IT energy consumption. The acronym for it is PUE, for power use efficiency. HP used it in their consolidation. People say its a pretty good approximation. In some simple cases, its just the reverse—you flip it. Its really as simple as that. I sort of think of things as a percentage up to 1—some percent efficient, thats the way I think of it. Other people think of it the other way. But the math is the same ... we just need to figure out whats the best thing we can do in the short run. And I think, at the same time, [we need to] get the industry to come up with some better benchmark that takes into account the performance of the actual end utilization of things. So thats probably going to take a little while for the industry to develop. In the federal sector, we need to get going because weve got some mandates and requirements to reduce the energy consumption by 30 percent. Weve got to get going on that. And so, we have to establish a baseline, and wed like to get all the federal sectors measured, and then get them to come up with a plan—a common-sense plan—to implement an energy-efficiency strategy. Then we need to re-measure and see what theyve done. Hopefully, they will have cut 30 percent. Thats a big number there. At Energy Star, we dont necessarily want to pick technology winners; we dont necessarily want to tell people, "This is the best way to do it." They have to figure it out for themselves. We guide them. We dont want to bias anyone. There are certain things we could probably endorse or whatever, but we dont want to be the ones who say: "This is a better technology to pursue than that technology." Page 2: Energy-Efficient



 
 
 
 
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 Salesforce.com 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 DevX.com 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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