No offense intended. But how will we ever attain green anything when over a third of IT managers is in the dark about what their power consumption is and nearly half only know the aggregate usage?* (*2007 Study by Research Concepts)
“Most data centers actually have at least some of the equipment needed to track power usage; they just don't know how to mine that data to give a single master view of energy consumption trends”
Necessary. Beneficial. Good. There's no arguing the moral value of a greener IT infrastructure, especially considering just how much these beasts in our basements consume. A 2007 US Environmental Protection Agency study found that data center energy utilization had doubled between 2000 and 2006, representing about 1.5% of all US energy consumption (almost twice as much power used by all the color televisions in the country). That trend is expected to continue, with power consumption doubling again by 2011. Sorry... we're entering into the "blah, blah, blah" zone, so let's get back to the point.
Knowing your power consumption starts with admitting what you don't know.
You may be aware that a typical server consumes 190 watts. But, did you realize that this only represents 41% of power usage for that server? Add in Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS) and HVAC for each unit, and the number jumps to 418 watts. That equates to $439 a year and a staggering 3.66 tons of greenhouse gasses emitted annually! Now, multiply that by hundreds of servers, all running an average of 88% of the time, and...you get idea. It's what you don't know that makes the difference.
Of course, most data center managers typically "don't pay the bill," so there's little motivation to expend resources to improve energy efficiency. But, with growing pressure from management to operate more leanly or lose headcount, there's plenty of incentive to better understand energy usage. Lucky for IT, there's most likely already equipment on-site to help them do this.
There's more information out there than you think. But how do you tap it all?
A recent Aperture Research Institute study states that half of the data centers do not have the ability to track power from individual assets (more than 5 million servers in the US alone!). But that statistic may be misleading. Most data centers actually have at least some of the equipment needed to track power usage; they just don't know how to "mine" that data to give a single master view of energy consumption trends.
The answer: A smart power management solution (without the blah, blah, blah)
Yes, the obstacles are many, from a multitude of machine and operating system types to legacy connectivity systems, diverse data formats and manual processes. But, they are not insurmountable. Proven, powerful solutions are out there ready to integrate all of that data flowing in from various devices to facilitate a deeper understanding of your IT environment.
What to look for in a power management solution.
Any power management solution you consider should be rich in features and function on both the hardware side (monitoring, connectivity and control) and the software side (management, reporting and planning).
The hardware portion should deliver dependable:
Monitoring – Real-time data collection, metrics and reporting, from sources including multi-vendor Power Distribution Units (PDUs), HVAC and UPS
Access – Enterprise-class appliances that allow remote access and power control of heterogeneous servers and network devices
The software side should enable:
Centralization – A single holistic view of the entire IT infrastructure
Integration – Gather and integrate information from a wide variety of collection points
Intuitive operation – An easy-to-understand interface that presents the data collected in a dynamic way
Planning – Data about every asset should be accessible for creation of "what-if" scenarios for informed change management before a single device is moved, added or changed
With a proper combination of power control hardware and power management appliances, you can quickly identify hot spots in the data center, such as idle or underutilized servers and inefficient legacy devices, plus better understand usage patterns to enable power throttling during regular periods of low activity. It can also help you plan "greenly" for any change coming down the road.
Just look what NTT Europe Online has accomplished.
This wholly-owned subsidiary of NTT Europe provides managed hosting, security and application management services to enterprises around the world. With business taking off, power consumption at and management of data centers in London, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt and Madrid was quickly getting out of hand. A centralized, management strategy was launched, with each center equipped with power distribution units, console servers and other linked appliances. Powerful software allows IT to monitor everything from a single location.
"We can view power consumption on a pole-by-pole basis in the data centers," says Craig Pennington, VP of European Operations. "That gives us a much more accurate map of how equipment is burning power, enabling us to make more informed decisions."
This visibility into the usage of each device permits NTT Europe to ensure it never overloads circuits while simplifying cooling by minimizing hot spots.
"That is very helpful in helping us make calculations on where to position equipment in terms of cooling requirements," continues Pennington. "It also enables us to determine underlying costs based on how much power is actually burned."
A pleasant side effect of power management technology is the increase efficiency the same devices award.
"Once we had the servers racked in the data center," says Pennington, "the build engineers, technical architects and the rest of our team can access them remotely, build them and manage them as if they were on the premises. That alone probably saves us about £900,000 a year."
Green represents more than just the environment. It's the color of money saved, as well.
Enterprises that have implemented efficiency initiatives have seen on average a 19% reduction in total IT power consumption, with some even enjoying upwards of 60% (Enterprise Management Associates Survey 2009).
Avocent's suite of systems management tools and products can help you effectively achieve your green goals (environmentally- and cash-driven) through proper power management tools. Our industry-leading solutions enable complete monitoring, management automation and detailed reporting on energy usage from the data center down to the rack, not only creating savings in actual energy consumption, but in manpower time and effort.
For more information, please visit www.avocent.com.