Storage Goes Green

EMC rolls out new services to aid data centers in energy efficiency.

With power consumption and heat generation becoming key concerns in corporate data centers, server OEMs and chip makers have been vocal in the moves theyve made to make their products more energy-efficient.

Now, storage vendors are beginning to roll out new products and services designed to help enterprises reduce the amount of power being consumed by their IT infrastructures.

Storage giant EMC on Dec. 6 unveiled new services designed to help users make their data centers more energy-efficient. At the same time, the Hopkinton, Mass., company unveiled its EMC Power Calculator, which gives users accurate energy-consumption data and cooling requirements for its Symmetrix DMX-3, Clariion CX3 UltraScale and Celerra networked storage systems based on specific configuration and workload requirements.

This comes at a time when smaller storage vendors, including Agámi Systems and Copan Systems, are making moves to give users energy-efficient products.

Businesses continue to struggle with the rapid rise of power costs in their data centers, caused in large part by the greater density of their IT infrastructures and the rising price of energy. According to research company Robert Frances Group, 41 percent of IT executives surveyed at Fortune 500 companies said power and cooling were major concerns. The same survey showed that data storage was playing a role: In 2004, Fortune 1000 companies had an average of 138TB of storage; in 2006, that number jumped to 600TB. Fueling that growth are recent federal regulations governing data storage.

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EMC is hoping its new services and tools can alleviate some of the strain. Through its EMC Global Services unit, the company will assess a customers data center environment and IT assets. EMC representatives then will help the customer design and implement a plan to better forecast and manage power consumption. In addition, they will address such issues as IT assets—servers as well as storage—data center capacity and system utilization, officials said.

The EMC Power Calculator is a free software tool designed to estimate energy consumption and cooling requirements based on customer configuration specifications.

Agámi has built an energy-efficient NAS (network-attached storage) appliance by leveraging Advanced Micro Devices Opteron processors and packing enterprise-class SATA (Serial ATA) drives into a small form factor to create a system that requires 50 percent fewer watts per terabyte than many of the largest storage vendors and five times better space density, a company spokesperson said.

For its part, Copan was one of the first storage companies to incorporate green initiatives into product planning and has been doing so for three years, company officials said. The low-power requirements of Copans enhanced MAID (Massive Array of Idle Disks) platform, coupled with the high density of its Revolution storage devices, deliver a 90TB-per-kilowatt return, which the company claims is the highest in the industry. Copan officials estimate that users can save 75 to 90 percent per unit in energy costs over competitive offerings.

Simply bringing in newer boxes can help reduce power costs. Steve Weston, chief IT administrator with Provincial Health Services, in Vancouver, British Columbia, said he saw improvements in system performance and energy efficiency when he replaced 50 old Unix devices with 10 new Network Appliance systems.

"We were having trouble meeting our weekend backup window, with all those servers and only 12 tape backups," Weston said. "But when we brought in some new NetApp servers and took some of our older, slower Unix machines offline, we got back on track, and our power consumption has gone down also."

Next Page: Data Centers by the numbers.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...