Report, Roadmap Focus On Energy Efficiency Practices at Data Centers

The Green Grid, a non-profit consortium dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in data centers and business computing ecosystems, announced on Aug. 7 its technology roadmap and key deliverables for 2007.

Data centers are facilities that contain IT equipment (computing, networking and data storage equipment), as well as power and cooling infrastructure. As the U.S. economy increasingly shifts from paper-based to digital information management, data centers have become a vital part of business, communication, academic and governmental systems. Over the last five years the increase in use of these systems, and the power and cooling infrastructure that supports them, have doubled energy use, increased greenhouse gas emissions and raised concerns about power grid reliability.

For the next several months, The Green Grid will focus on data collection through the documentation of existing standards and the evaluation of metrics; data assessment through a market study of current efficiency practices; and technology proposals that outline the Green Grid's recommendations for the future of energy efficient data centers.

Specifically, as part of its technology roadmap, the Green Grid has announced the following deliverables:

Data Collection

  • Data Center Standards and Metrics Inventory (Q3'07) -- this study will document existing standards and metrics for energy efficiency, identify coverage gaps and make recommendations for future development.
  • The Green Grid Metrics: Describing Data Center Power Efficiency (Q3'07) -- this study will be an update to the Green Grid's existing study on data center efficiency metrics and will look at workload classification through a data center segmentation model.
  • "Operationalizing" Energy-Efficiency Data Collection (Q4'07) -- this study will identify the requirements for collecting and aggregating data center power consumption data.

Data Assessment

  • Data Center Efficiency Baseline Market Study (Q3'07) -- this study on the current state of the industry will allow the Green Grid to identify key factors driving companies to take action on data center power consumption and the challenges in doing so. Collecting and analyzing this data will help to provide companies with a baseline to compare their own initiatives, goals and performance.
  • Operational Best Practices (Q4'07) -- these studies will focus on "right-sizing" the data center and will outline best practices in the adoption of virtualization and consolidation technologies.
  • Database for Data Center Performance (Q4'07) -- The Green Grid will begin development work on a database focused on data center characteristics and performance schema.

Technology Proposals

  • Initial Technology Roadmap (Q4'07) -- this roadmap provides an initial assessment of existing and emerging technologies affecting data center efficiency and performance, taking into consideration both return on investment and risk to the end user.
  • Power Distribution Options for the Data Center Study (Q3'07) -- this study will look at the qualitative advantages and disadvantages of data center power distribution configurations.
  • Cooling Options Study (Q4'07) -- this study will focus on the qualitative advantages and disadvantages of data center cooling architectures.

These technology deliverables will be launched over the next two quarters and are aimed at bringing together industry leaders and end users from critical segments of the data center ecosystem to develop a unified voice around data center efficiency issues.

"Despite the fact that power consumption is one of the most important issues facing IT today, there is a lack of guidelines and resources available for those looking to drive a change," said Lawrence Lamers, director of the Green Grid. "The Green Grid is focused on building the foundation and launching the key technology deliverables required to improve data center energy efficiency -- both for existing data centers and for the design and operation of future ones."

The Green Grid announcement came on the heels of an EPA study promoting best practices for reducing power consumption in data centers. The "Report to Congress on Server and Data Center Energy Efficiency" recommends priority efficiency opportunities and policies that can lead to additional savings using state-of-the-art technologies and operations.

Findings from the report include:

  • Data centers consumed about 60 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in 2006, roughly 1.5 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption.
  • The energy consumption of servers and data centers has doubled in the past five years and is expected to almost double again in the next five years to more than 100 billion kWh, costing about $7.4 billion annually.
  • Federal servers and data centers alone account for approximately 6 billion kWh (10 percent) of this electricity use, at a total electricity cost of about $450 million per year.
  • Existing technologies and strategies could reduce typical server energy use by an estimated 25 percent, with even greater energy savings possible with advanced technologies.

The report, which was released on Aug. 3, can be accessed at http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=prod_development.server_efficiency_study.

The Green Grid: www.thegreengrid.org

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.

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