Power-Hungry IT

Servers, storage networks,the data center and other culprits continue to pull power despite the best intentions of CIOs.

SUVs are piling up unsold on car dealer lots, and car manufacturers (such as Honda) are shifting their production lines from gas hogs to fuel sippers. I'm wondering, are there the equivalent of IT SUVs?

Servers (hey, they even begin with an "S") are a good place to start looking. While there is a lot of talk about server virtualization, software as a service and applications delivered as a subscription, I'm suspecting there are a lot of old, power-hungry servers out there in data centers cranking away, ready to serve up applications that are long passed their prime.

Why is that? Why do some servers live on despite the best intentions of newly enlightened CIOs? Here's a clue: because those servers continue to crank away and don't cause anyone any problems. The old Unix-based box (maybe even based on a DEC Alpha processor) has outlasted client/server computing and Windows NT, and it has a decent chance of outlasting software as a service. C'mon, time to take that SUV server offline.

What about a data communication SUV hidden in your data network? There is one in there; you just can't find it among all the wires, multiplexors, switches, routers and assorted other data communication devices with red lights that still blink off and on and may or may not be connected to any particular network. Data communications networks are so incomprehensible to mere mortals that energy usage takes a back seat to the ability to get the network up and running. Wireless networks make energy measurement even more complicated. There is an SUV in that data network, but you don't want to remove it until you have your next job well in line.

Storage networks make data com networks look simple. Near-line, offline, tape and disk storage are all supposed to work together in concert. They never work that way, but if you want to really feel the heat, try bringing your storage SUV under control. The technology thrill ride of the storage network is you will never get credit for keeping it up and available, but you will be the first invited to the hanging if the storage network is either unavailable or even worse, compromised. If you have to choose between a storage network that works but is an SUV behemoth or an energy sipper that stutters, I know which one you will pick.

And, of course, the biggest corporate SUV is the data center itself. Never has so much horsepower been directed to cooling systems that should never have been running in the first place in rooms never designed for today's virtualized blade environment. The corporate data center is usually an overheated, overcooled square room sitting on a raised floor in an office tower. The data center is the biggest corporate technology SUV of them all and the hardest one to replace.