IBM Offers More Cool Data Center Solutions

Big Blue launches an upgrade to its Power Executive suite of server applications and claims its blades outperformed some HP servers by 30 percent.

IBM announced Nov. 16 that is taking another step to offer solutions for IT professionals looking to save money, conserve energy and cool down the data center.

The Armonk, N.Y., company is rolling out the latest version of its Power Executive suite of technologies, which allows IT administrators to monitor and predict how much power the data center is using.

In addition, Big Blue also took aim at one of its blade rivals, Hewlett-Packard. IBM announced that both its Advanced Micro Devices-based and Intel-based BladeCenter servers outperformed Hewlett-Packards BladeSystem servers in the companys cClass line by 30 percent in some instances.

Energy efficiency in the data center and the ability for companies like IBM, HP and Sun Microsystems to offer solutions has become a key issue for IT professionals in the past few years.

During the IBM announcement, company officials pointed to statistics that in the United States alone, there are some 9 million servers running nonstop in data centers and eating away 38 percent of the countrys electricity.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read more about cooling and power issues in the data center.

IBM had previously announced its Power Executive suite as way for IT managers to keep these costs under control. The new version will allow administrators to not only monitor the amount of power the data center is using, but also allow them to "cap" the amount of power flowing to servers, blades, chassis or racks.

Instead of relying on the label rating, said Doug Balog, vice president of IBMs BladeCenter unit, the IT administrator can trace the amount of real power that is being used by either an individual server or a group of servers in the data center.

In each IBM blade, engineers have installed power and thermal sensors to keep track of how much power the server is using. The blades firmware then calculates the use and feeds those numbers to the Power Executive application.

Dan Olds, principle owner of Gabriel Consulting Group, of Beaverton, Ore., said the new features to the Power Executive were impressive.

"That is a first instance where I have seen a comprehensive data tool that allows a user to measure power management, monitor it and control it, all in real time," Olds said.

Since power consumption and usage is not linear, Olds believes IBMs solution will allow IT managers to move workloads around the data center more effectively.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read more about IBMs "Cool Blue" technology.

The new suite will also help maximize the potential of companies that use virtualization—the ability to run multiple applications and operating systems on a single server—said James Gargan, vice president and business line executive for IBMs System x.

Gargan believes that this technology has opened up a way for companies to run four to eight different applications on a single server.

In addition to its new monitoring suite, IBM officials took a swipe at rival HP, claiming that the company side-by-side comparison of blades show that Big Blues servers used 30 percent less energy.

In its study, IBM said that its LS21 AMD Opteron blade compared to HPs BL465c was 30 percent more efficient when idle and 18 percent more efficient when running at full capacity.

IBM also compared its Xeon-based HS 21 blade to HPs BL460c and found that the IBM system used 26 percent less energy when idle and 13 percent when running at full capacity.

"By using 500 IBM Opteron-based blades, a customer could save as much as $168,000 over three years in power, cooling and hosting costs over a comparable HP blade server," Gargan said.

Balog said the tests were a side-by-side comparison used the same configurations to give an accurate assessment.

Olds, who was also briefed on the comparison study, said it was unusual for IBM to conduct this type of test. However, Olds was impressed by the procedures, configurations and methodology used by IBMs engineers.

"It seems to be pretty straight up," Olds said.

Olds added that IBM and HP should take the testing a step further and allow a third-party to run the same comparison.

An HP spokesperson said the Palo Alto, Calif., company could not directly comment on the IBM study since it did not know what type of methodology was used in the study.

"We are happy to be tested against IBMs best effort via an independent, unbiased and credible third party," the spokesperson wrote in e-mail to eWEEK.

"Knowing what we know about IBMs architecture, it is still an old and outdated design. HP BladeSystem c-Class, hands down, is the new metric by which all other blade architectures are judged."

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