Less Power to Storage

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Storage systems are finally getting some attention in the drive (pun intended) to make the data center less power hungry. Not only are we seeing a greater number of energy-efficient systems coming to market, but there is a growing movement to reconfigure the very process of getting energy from generator to device.


First, the product news. HP took a major step forward with the new StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) 4100, 6100 and 8100. These mid-level solutions are now said to use 45 percent less power even while boosting speed by 24 percent. A number of tools have been put into service here, such as dynamic capacity management (HP's version of thin provisioning) and Fibre Channel ATA drives. In tandem, they serve to boost utilization rates and keep the number of active drives to a minimum.


A new series of tape drives is helping to lower operational costs on the c-Class BladeSystem. The LTO-4 drive is at the heart of the Ultrium 448 Tape Blade, which fits inside the c-Class enclosure and features a power-saving mode that cuts consumption 22 percent. The drive is also available on the StorageWorks MSL, EML and other automated systems.


Seagate is also out with a new drive, the Cheetah NS, a 10k model based on the company 15k platform that delivers 400 GB while cutting power and cooling needs by a third compared to other 3.5-inch drives. Versions are available for 3 Gbps SAS or 4 Gbps Fibre Channel environments.


And it was only last month that Hitachi Data Systems unveiled the Universal Storage Platform (USO) V, with a heavy dose of virtual thin provisioning to improve storage utilization and lessen the number of drives that need to be provisioned to meet storage goals.


Still others are looking to apply to storage systems to the energy management techniques that are being developed for servers, namely, the process by which electricity travels from the wall to the device. The ASHREA (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers) TC 9.9 committee is looking at ways to better convert AC power from the outlet to the DC power used by most enterprise systems. The group is also looking to find a proper standard voltage level that would allow servers and other gear to take power directly from a DC-based UPS.


The need to power disk drives and maintain redundancy and availability will continue to be storage's main draw on power, even in the energy-efficient future. But as smaller form factors and virtual environments take hold, the savings could be substantial.