Is it Green, or Just Hype?

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Green storage is emerging as the next big target for energy-conscious enterprises now that the effectiveness of consolidation and virtualization has been demonstrated on the server side.


One of the newest converts is Britain's Virgin Games, the branded gaming unit of the Virgin Group. The company recently underwent a storage overhaul aimed at consolidating the multiple tiers, applications and IT environments that had emerged over the past decade. Along with new HP Blades and VMware virtualization, the company deployed the Axiom storage system with an eye toward improving disk utilization three-fold. The company also says the system offers nearly the same throughput as direct-attached Fibre Channel systems and can be scaled to enhance disaster recovery and replication when needed.


The Storage Performance Council has already set its sights on a green storage index designed to compare systems in terms of power consumption and efficiency, and is currently working out the formulas needed for a dollars-to-kilowatts matrix. Current industry measurements include Sun's SWaP system, which measures performance divided by size and power, and a storage efficiency quotient by disk array firm Pillar Data Systems, which, coincidentally, oversaw the Virgin Games revamp.


For some, though, the question isn't whether new systems are being engineered to draw less power, but whether the green label is simply being applied to technologies that were already in the works. Leading storage firms like HP, IBM and NetApp are touting everything from improved disk utilization, thin provisioning, data deduplication and even tape-based backup as green technologies now that the issue is front and center.


Smaller vendors are getting in the act as well. Rackable Systems bills its RapidScale cluster appliances and OmniStor SE3016 systems as the company's "Eco-Logical" product line. DataCore has begun pitching its SANmelody and SANsymphony virtualization platform as a green solution because it cuts down on empty disk space.


So is this real, or simply a cynical attempt to capitalize on a current trend? In the end, who cares? It's the numbers that count. And if a technology investment cuts costs, increases efficiency and helps out the planet in the bargain, what's not to love?