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Sarbanes Oxley : Technology : Data Center

IT: Go Green For The Greenback
November 20, 2008 12:00 PM

By Sai Gundavelli
Sai Gundavelli
Solix Technologies

Current energy consumption is not sustainable for data intensive businesses unchecked in the future. Power scarcity will be part of the IT landscape and data is still growing at an alarming rate. Energy caps, regulation, costs and the need-to-be-green are putting pressure on the information technology industry to come up with creative solutions.

The high price of energy, fears of global warming and public scrutiny on environmental impact are forcing corporations to take a hard look at their IT systems as a way to decrease their burden on the environment. In addition, governments worldwide are implementing legislation or certifications to enforce energy performance standards and regulate energy consumption. These include the Japan Energy Law, the SPEC Power, the ECMA Energy Efficiency (ECMA TC-38 TG2), Energy Star, the European Union Directive for Energy Using Products (EuP), EPEAT and LEED Certification, a building nationally accepted benchmarks for design and construction of new buildings.

Servers and Storage systems are major consumers of power in the data center. The power problem is compounded by disproportionate use of energy by inefficient servers and storage infrastructures with waste estimated at 60% in many environments. Gartner reports that by 2011, more than 70% of US data centers will face tangible disruptions related to energy consumption causing Upward-spiraling infrastructure demands and increasing energy costs mean that the energy proportion of IT costs could double by 2012.

Al Gore may be the most vocal proponent of Green but corporate America is taking notice as well. Organizations such as Adobe Systems are proactively taking steps to implement programs that increase efficiencies, conserve energy and lesson their impact on the environment. Rupert Murdoch, Chairman of News Corporation has made the boldest statement so far by pledging that he will make his entire organization carbon neutral by 2010. But Murdoch is not turning tree-hugger just yet; he is making a rational business decision that the savings in power will far outweigh the revenues lost. "When all of News Corp. becomes carbon neutral, it will have the same impact as turning off the electricity in the city of London for five full days," the Murdoch stated on the Fox news program "Your World with Neil Cavuto.

Saving energy is not just about the Public Relations of being carbon neutral, it represents real savings to the organization. Saving energy means spending less on cooling and power to run servers and storage. The US Environmental Protection Agency reported that in 2006, US data centers consumed 61 billion kilowatt hours or 1.5% of all energy in the US. By 2011, power consumption from data centers could exceed 100billion kwHs.

At the data center, costs are increasing, According to AFCOM's 2005 survey of its members; data center power requirements are increasing an average of 8% per year. Power requirements of the top 10% of data centers are growing at over 20%. Total annual operating costs for a data center, scaled to a data center employing 75 workers and occupying 125,000 sq. ft. of new space ranges from under $10 million in estimated operating costs per year in Sioux Falls, SD to over $14 million in New York City. At those rates, companies are less likely to accept high energy prices if they can avoid it.

Solutions used to combat this problem include virtualization of servers, and powering disks on an as-needed basis (focused on efficient power supplies through tighter integration between system workloads and storage drives). These systems are all valid strategies but the fact remains the 80% of data is under utilized by the organization. Better data-management techniques such as data compression, data de-duplication, and tiered storage can create significant energy savings.

Recent attention has been focused on server consolidation but high volume storage devices, and the power and cooling infrastructure, needed to support data growth within the organization are the real problem. Exponential data growth ultimately translates into the need for more space, more storage servers, more applications to streamline the data, added networking, more complex data center design, larger facilities, more air conditioning and power supply units and consequently, a weighty power bill.

The data layer is where the real problems lie. Storage is consuming power, and the same principles that govern storage space saving should be applied to power savings. Therefore, overall storage/data management is a key component in realizing significant power savings. Users have to identify what information is being stored, quantify where and for how long it is being kept, and detect redundancies and opportunities for information consolidation. From there they can move forward to incremental backups, snapshots, and other advanced storage technologies to sever the junk data and reduce the overall volume of data.

Enterprise Data Management or Information Lifecycle Management and tiered storage strategies are critical to managing storage on many levels, and power consumption is an important factor. By moving less critical data to a lower storage tier, you can reduce the number of tier one spindles and streamline the associated backup infrastructure. Whether you are tiering storage across multiple arrays, or tiering within a single array, it makes sense to consider energy efficiency in the context of equipment acquisition and lifecycle policy management.

Enterprise Data Management moves data to the most efficient storage medium for its current use while maintaining data integrity and access for future use. Current data management strategies are focused on moving data to the most cost effective storage for its usage. The next wave of information management will be to move data to the most power efficient storage that meets to usage requirement. Power efficiency represents a shift in data center mentality that brings power considerations into the location discussion. A comprehensive Enterprise Data Management strategy is a key component in moving to a Green data center; Data can be moved to its most power efficient storage medium but still maintain the data access needed for business continuity, regulation and legal requirements.

Data archiving and subsetting are potent technologies that can directly help optimize storage capacity needs. This technology optimizes storage capacity utilization and reduces the associated power demands. Policy-based archiving and purging eliminates redundant copies of stored data, enabling significant data reduction for backup and storage applications.

Enterprise Data Management offers many approaches, techniques and technologies that can be combined in various forms to address the power and space issues. Tiered storage optimizes:

• Capacity utilization, Consolidation and virtualization of servers;
• Data footprint using archiving, compression and single instance storage (de-duplication) for structured and unstructured data.
• Movement of data to the storage best for usage; from high performance production servers to slower, more power efficient storage to tape for very long term storage.
• Creating subsets of data for test and development decreases the need for full size copies used in typical IT management processes.

Enterprise Data Management provides several specific benefits that can help IT reduce its power consumption. It provides a base for:

• Developing effective data archive/purge strategies to take your voluminous inactive data off the primary storage to low cost and low powered storage;
• Consolidating servers, decreasing energy footprint for electrical and cooling, optimizing facility area of the data centers and reducing IT costs;
• Reducing the need for power-intensive switches, backup servers, and other components.
Effective data management strategies are key to reducing the energy demand of the data center, reducing energy bills, lessoning their impact on the environment and reducing the need for government regulation of power consumption. IT organizations that do not take effective data management seriously are only doing part of the job of controlling costs and meeting the green operational requirements of the 21st Century.

Sai Gundavelli
Solix Technologies
As the Founder & CEO of Solix Technologies, Mr. Gundavelli is responsible for the company's overall vision and strategic direction. Under his leadership the company pioneered the concept of Enterprise Data Management, providing the first worldwide infrastructure platform to manage data across all segments of Enterprise Data (Structured and Unstructured).

Mr.Gundavelli is a member of the Churchill Club, TIE Charter member and also a member of NASSCOM. He is a business and technology thought leader and a distinguished speaker in many forums. He holds a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from University of Oklahoma and Bachelors from Osmania University.

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