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The power of green

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DQW Bureau
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The biggest challenge for a datacenter today is to go green. And this is not

because we have suddenly become very nature friendly but it's because at the end

of the day when we save nature by cutting down our power, cooling, space, heat

emissions, etc we directly or indirectly save costs. The reasons for this are

simple. IT is a must for every business, and as the business grows, an

organization needs to invest more on the IT infrastructure. With the rising

energy costs, more IT equipment translates to higher costs of power consumption,

and also more space, which anyways comes at a premium. So, if products continue

consuming the power they have been consuming, then it could have serious

implications. Last year, Gartner estimated that ICT accounts for two percent of

global CO2 emissions, which is the same as the aviation industry. That's a high

figure by any means, and unsustainable as suggested by Gartner.

To understand this need of going green, let's take an example. It's about an

office in Gurgaon. The office has around 400 computers and a small data center

with somewhere around 30 servers and five blades which eat up around 150 to

200KW of power in a day. The consumption includes the power consumed by the

cooling and lighting equipments running in the data center as well as in the

building.

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In Gurgaon power is a major problem and to address it, the company has a 320

KV diesel generator which eats Rs 1,000 worth of diesel every hour and also

throws out a lot of pollutants. But, surprisingly, when in the night the city

undergoes major power cuts for hours and the office is closed, except the data

center which is a 24x7 operation. So, the data center should not require more

than a 20 KV generator, the same 320KV generator is used and a lot of fuel is

burnt without any reason and a lot of money goes for a toss. Such a situation is

nothing but wrong planning and is very common in our neighbourhood. Below we

talk about some of the key technologies that should be used in a data center to

make it greener.

Virtualization



Every organization today is combating the evils of server proliferation in

the datacenter. There's a server for just about every application: mail, web,

proxy, business apps, security, content management, file sharing and so on. The

sad part is that their average utilization hovers around 30-40 percent, if not

less. And yet they continue to run 24x7 and consume energy even when they're

idle. So, in effect, you're paying the energy cost of servers, which are idle

almost 70 percent of the time. Virtualization allows you to abstract the

hardware from the software. So a server, which traditionally runs a single OS

and application in the data center, is able to run multiple OSes and apps

simultaneously. This would allow you to load a single server with more

applications and increase its utilization. This reduces the number of servers in

the data center, and also helps you defer your server purchase. In the second

week of September this year, Intel has released its 7400 series Xeon processors

which has six cores per processor. Such innovations are driving the industry to

go greener with more widespread use of virtualization.

Cloud Computing



If you extend the concept of virtualization from a single server to a

complete grid, and make its access available over the Internet, it's called a

Cloud. Just imagine, if virtualizing a single server can save you 50 to 70

percent of resources then how much savings will happen in case your complete

data center acts as a single grid and is then virtualized.

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Power and Backup



It's always good to use renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind.

But it might not be feasible for all data centers to go for such deployments as

the costs are huge and the RoI is slow. But there are certain things which can

be easily done, such as using UPSes instead of generators.

Yes, even though UPSes are not great for the environment, but they have their

share of goodies as well. First, they don't eat up oil and second, they save a

lot of smoke and money.

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Moreover, they preserve power. So, going back to the Gurgaon data center

example, we can easily replace the generator with a UPS, and so when the

utilization of power is less at nights, the UPS will only supply the desired

amount of power and will increase the backup by preserving the unutilized power.

Blade Servers



A single 7U blade chassis can take up to 14 blades which saves your real

estate space and in turn reduce the ambient cooling requirements. Blade servers

are generally built with specialized processors which eat less amounts of

electricity. In Intel's dictionary these processors are called LV (low voltage)

processors and their performance per Watt is higher than others, but are not the

highest performing processors in the lot.

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The other benefit which you get with blades is that most of the blade vendors

today provide chassis which are both backward and forward compatible, which

means you can easily replace the existing servers with new ones as and when they

are available, and can do more virtualization to consolidate instead of buying

new servers. The vendors also provide buyback schemes for old blades against new

ones pretty often, so it also solves your e-waste problems as you don't have to

throw away those blades. It's not just servers and blades that need to go green,

many components today come with a greener version. These versions are

essentially products with slightly reduced performance and better power

efficiency along


with less harmful elements in the body of the device. A lot of such products are

available out there, And yes, all these components are a part of your

datacenter, so if while building or upgrading a datacenter, you should look

forward to such equipment.

Source: PC Quest

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