Monday, April 5, 2010

Green Storage - Need of 21st Century IT Infrastructure

The storage infrastructure within your data center will have just pushed up to 70%more carbon into the atmosphere, consumed up to 70% more power and up to 70% more cooling than it needed to. Over a year, a typical 42TB storage solution will push 8.9metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere that otherwise could have been completely eliminated by a power efficient storage subsystem that meets or exceeds ALL the same performance, reliability and cost requirements demanded by your business.It’s easy to ‘tune out’ those kinds of talking points as IT professionals have grown more and more cynical of vendor marketing that always seems to over-promise and under deliver. But if green initiatives play a role in your organization’s priorities, power consumption solutions to the storage infrastructure are one of the easiest to implement and, thus, belong at the top of IT consideration.
Clearing the air on green storage

In an age of energy awareness, somehow the storage infrastructure within data centers has largely flown under the radar. Public awareness of ecological conservation is turning off lights, replacing incandescent bulbs, innovating greater levels of vehicle fuel efficiency, all while IT professionals continue to purchase and use the same growing amounts of storage that are consuming more power and pushing more carbon than they did ten years ago. In a world that has moved from incandescent to fluorescent, the vast majority of data centers are still using the same wasteful, storage systems that haven’t kept pace with power efficiency progress. Sure, vendors want to jump on the “green bandwagon” and claim “green storage” when, in fact, the only thing green about their storage is the color of the box it came in and the additional cost of the software you had to buy. It’s become harder and harder for IT professionals so see through the green smoke screen of vendor marketing.
Key Questions to Ask
1. Which vendors offer the most ecologically friendly storage solutions?
• Which vendors offer green solutions?
• What kind of solutions do they offer?
• How are they different from other vendor offerings?
2. How much of a reduction in power consumption and carbon production can be expected over a typical array?
• Are claims validated by lab reports?
• Can claims be substantiated by customers in real world scenarios?
3. Are there performance penalties to be expected in exchange for power efficiency?
• What kinds of applications are supported by green technology solutions?
• Can the vendor’s green storage technology be leveraged in SAS environment as well?
4. Do green storage technologies incur additional expense?
• Are there any additional costs incurred for green storage?
• Are there associated license fees?

The dirty secret is that some storage vendors feel justified to make a “green claim” when making the most minor of power efficiency improvements, e.g. a slightly improved power supply or the promise of a piece of software to utilize less storage which just costs you more money in the end. The way some companies try to stake a claim in the “go-green” trend is akin to a monster truck going green with recyclable seats.Storage vendors try to reduce the wattage of a fan while their disks needlessly spin at full speed when idle and call it a “green solution.” And of those who spin down, most deliver a green storage benefit that comes at the price of performance - a price not many applications can afford. The world of green storage marketing is so upside down that one storage system, which reduces power consumption by a meager 1%, can sit right next to another storage system that can reduce power consumption by a whopping 70%, and both are marketed as “green solutions.” More than ever, IT professionals have to look past “green claims” and inspect actual consumption reduction.
Green opportunity in Today’s Storage Infrastructure
The economic and environmental responsibility of our age is demanding more from disk storage vendors. A lot more. One of the reasons that storage energy waste has largely flown under the radar in the data center is because so much attention has been placed on the largest consumer of energy and capital expense in the data center — servers. However, with the advent of server virtualization and blade servers, IT professionals have made significant power improvements on the server level. Now that the server power problem is being addressed, attention has turned to the second largest consumer of power in the data center — storage. While servers may be the largest consumer of power in the data center, storage is not far behind accounting for 40% of all power consumption in the data center. With application servers becoming more efficient, it’s just a matter a time until storage becomes the top consumer of power, the largest producer of carbon and most significant source of waste in the data center. And with 50% aggregate data growth year over year, the power inefficiencies of today’s arrays can hardly be tolerated any longer from both an ecological and economic perspective.To understand the gravity of the problem, one must understand the power footprint of today’s data center. It is estimated that 1.5% of all the energy consumed in America comes from data centers, which is equivalent to the power consumption of 5.8 million households and exceeds to the total power output of all the coal power plants in the U.S. 40% of the power consumed by a data center comes from its storage infrastructure. A single watt saved on the drive level does more than just save power consumed by the drive; it ripples throughout the entire cooling infrastructure, power distribution infrastructure and ultimately slashes the carbon production from all three sources. For every watt saved on the drive level, roughly 3 watts end up being saved at the meter.2

Four Steps to Greener Storage Infrastructure:
1. Utilize power efficient storage arrays
2. Increase existing storage utilization with virtualization and thin provisioning?
3. Reduce storage with deduplication and compression
4. Consolidate data to more power efficient tiers

Carbon Footprint of Today’s Storage Arrays
Ecologically, since the industrial revolution, increased amounts of greenhouse gases have been emitted into the atmosphere — dramatic increases in CO2, methane, tropospheric ozone, CFCs, and nitrous oxide. The concentration of CO2 alone has increased by 36% since the mid-1700s. These levels are considerably higher than at any time during the last 650,000 years — the period for which reliable data has been
extracted from ice cores. Less direct geological evidence indicates that CO2 values this high were last seen approximately 20 million years ago. Fossil fuel burning has produced approximately three-quarters of the increase in CO2 from human activity over the past 20 years. The remainder is due to land-use change — deforestation in particular. The issue of climate change has sparked debate about the benefits of limiting industrial emissions of greenhouse gases verses the costs that such changes would entail. EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, announced in Copenhagen that the agency had finalized its finding that greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, pose a threat to human health and welfare. The EPA(US Envt. Protection Agency) will soon begin regulating greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, factories and major industrial polluters. Data center regulation is only a matter of time. In the U.S., The House has already passed a bill that would cap U.S. carbon emissions at 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. The Senate is considering similar legislation. While global warming is not solved by any single action, the balance is dependent upon the cumulative effect of everyone doing their part. As individuals, the responsibility trickles down to things as simple as turning off a light or moving to a high-efficiency bulb to decrease one’s carbon footprint. In the data center, the problem is drastically larger, but, in many ways, very simple to solve.
Green Storage Best Practices
A variety of best practices can help us better understand efficiency. In storage, there are three things to consider to improve energy efficiency:
*The additional energy consumed because of inefficient devices
*The additional capacity required because of inefficient management
*The additional floor space required because of inefficient packaging
With the convergence of our current ecological challenge, we are all faced with our own individual responsibility. No single action can solve all of the problems we face today, but we can’t ignore that the best solution lies in the accumulation of many small changes.

1Report to Congress on Server and Data Center Energy Efficiency
Public Law 109-431. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ENERGY STAR Program
2Energy Logic: Calculating and Prioritizing Your Data Center IT Efficiency Actions,
Emerson Network Power

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