Medium Effort Initiatives

By Joe Polastre  |  Posted 2009-11-05 Print this article Print

Medium effort initiatives

This second set of improvements to your facility requires more effort, more disruption and some modest capital investments, but they still yield sub-one year ROIs. These include the following four improvements:

1. Server virtualization: Make more efficient use of fewer machines

2. Storage consolidation: Much like server virtualization, this technique uses a single storage array to support multiple customers or business functions

3. Storage optimization: Install software that allows low-priority storage units (Tier 3 and backup units) to spin down when unused

4. Monitor your storage systems for signs of end-of-life (EOL). As they age, disks start to suffer from excessive seek operations, increased spindle drag and other degradations that increase power consumption and reduce reliability. Most experts suggest that a three-year cycle for rotating media will cut your storage array's energy bill by 10 percent.

Equipment replacement

Finally, it's time to consider equipment replacement. Swapping several old power hogs for a single, new virtualized server or consolidated storage unit should be a part of your normal capital management cycle to spread expenditures and minimize disruptions. Just remember: while upgrading to more energy-efficient units and applying virtualization techniques will cut your overall energy consumption, it will not reduce your PUE and perhaps will even raise it.

Each time you perform a second-tier improvement, remember to re-audit your system. By this time, you should start to see some significant shifts-both in how much energy your data center is using and where it's being used. These new patterns will help you identify the next most cost-effective target of opportunity.

If your facility is similar to most of the corporate data centers operating today, it's likely that using even a significant fraction of these measures will allow you to cut your base-line energy consumption by 40 percent.

Joe Polastre is co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Sentilla. Joe is responsible for defining and implementing the company's global technology and product strategy. Winner of the 2009 Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal 40 Under 40 award and named one of BusinessWeek's Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs, Joe often speaks about energy management and the role of physical computing, where information from the physical world is used to make energy efficiency decisions. Before joining Sentilla, Joe held software development and product manager positions with IBM, Microsoft and Intel. Joe is active in numerous organizations including The Green Grid, US Green Building Council, ACM and IEEE. Joe holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S. in Computer Science from Cornell University. He can be reached at

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