Reining in IT Energy Consumption
Many IT organizations don't account for energy costs when formulating their IT budgets and have little visibility into the true costs.
It should be clear by now that conserving power in the data center is not just a passing fad.
Enterprises of all stripes are rapidly implementing power management infrastructures that are every bit as sophisticated as those that govern server, storage and network architectures. In fact, power management is now seen as an integral component of full data center infrastructure management (DCIM) platforms in which everything from virtual machine deployment and data load balancing are viewed in terms of the most-efficient use of energy.
Server Technology Inc., for example, just launched an upgraded version of its Sentry Power Management system that can act as a standalone cabinet power management tool or integrate directly into wider DCIM solutions. The platform provides data on cabinet-level discovery, setup, configuration and firmware upgrades, with monitoring alerts via email or the Simple Network Management Protocol. Server Technology also has a new Smart POPS (Per Outlet Power Sensing) cabinet power distribution (CDU) unit, providing always-on power service that is more reliable than manually switched designs. The devices feature a built-in network interface for receiving power, temperature and humidity levels, as well as threshold notification.
As data silos fall by the wayside, power management stacks are starting to take on universal responsibilities as well. iTRACS Corp. has a new DCIM solution called PowerEye that provides end-to-end visibility across IT and core assets regardless of the various interdependencies that arise in the power chain. The system offers 3-D visualization that allows managers to calculate power efficiencies in IT and non-IT resources, effectively giving IT personnel greater awareness of the energy impact of their data infrastructure and resource configuration decisions.
Virtual infrastructure can have an effect on power consumption as well, and not all of it positive. To that end, Microsoft and Duke University have teamed up to develop a new monitoring technology that tracks the energy draw of individual VMs and then distributes power based on application, rather than system hardware, requirements. In the end, the duo hopes to devise a system that does away with continual peak power distribution to servers in favor of one that automatically adjusts distribution on the virtual layer so that machines draw only the supply they need to process their loads. Ideally, the system will be coupled with live migration technology to automatically transfer VMs to the fewest number of physical servers, allowing the remainder to power down.
Like all automated processes, today's power management technologies must perform a delicate dance with a range of tools and platforms - everything from load balancing and traffic management to server/storage provisioning and configuration - in order to effect the kind of energy efficiency that enterprises are demanding. That kind of integration is neither cheap nor easy, but it can ultimately shave thousands, if not millions, off the energy bill, particularly as continued volatility in energy markets produce such rapid swings on fuel costs.