IBM Looks to Monitor Mainframe Energy Consumption

Big Blue says it's following through on its "Project Big Green" to cut energy use in the data center.

IBM is looking to make it easier to monitor energy consumption within its mainframe computers.

Starting Oct. 11, Big Blue is launching a new program—dubbed a "mainframe gauge"—for customers of its System z9 mainframes that will allow them to monitor and collect statistics on the amount of energy their mainframes systems use in a typical day.

The Armonk, N.Y., company also will begin collecting and publishing data from approximately 1,000 customers mainframes in order to better gauge the average numbers of watts a system uses per hour and to offer a better picture of the average watts and kilowatts a computer uses in a given day or week.

All of these efforts fall under IBMs "Project Big Green," which the company first announced May 11 as a $1 billion project that looks to double the computing capacity of its own data centers without increasing power consumption by 2010.

One of the first steps IBM took toward this goal happened in August when the company announced plans to compact 3,900 of its own servers onto 33 virtualized System z mainframes running Linux.

The project also follows recommendations issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year that called for better monitoring of the nations IT infrastructure and more energy-efficient servers and hardware. The report found the data center energy consumption will likely double by 2011.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about the EPAs latest report on energy consumption in the data center.

Under this new program to gauge energy, David Anderson, an IBM "green" consultant, said sensors within the mainframe will collect statistics on the systems energy use and how much power it is dedicating to cooling the hardware. The customer can then check those numbers either in real time or collect those statistics in order to measure performance across a specific timeframe.

In addition, IBM is including a new feature, called the Power Estimator Tool, that will help keep track of how much energy a particular configuration or workload on a Systems z mainframes uses to run the application and keep the hardware cool.

IBM also plans on publishing on its Web site the cumulative data on mainframe heating and cooling, which Anderson said should be ready by the end of October or early November. New statistics on heating and cooling will then be published every month. IBM has been collecting these numbers since August.

In 2006, IBM announced that it would invest $100 million in its mainframe systems and promote the System z line as a viable alternative to x86 servers due to its virtualization capabilities and ability to handle large workloads.

"I think IBM has done a very interesting job in positioning the mainframe, which many people have viewed as a legacy system, into a product that is ready for 21st century primetime, and the green data center initiative is part of that larger position," said Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research.

/zimages/3/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on IT management.