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Microsoft's Data Center Efficiency Series
TriplePundit has teamed up with Microsoft to present a series based on a recent Whitepaper entitled "The IT Energy Efficiency Imperative." We have digested key points in the whitepaper into this 10 part weekly series in order to:
- Highlight the financial, productivity and environmental benefits of embracing IT energy efficiency.
- Illustrate why increasing IT resource utilization from today’s low levels offers the most significant energy efficiency gains and why current efforts to improve utilization are failing.
- Provide motivation and actionable guidance for IT and business decision makers to improve IT energy efficiency and resource utilization through technologies such as cloud computing.
Please enjoy the series below, and feel free to leave comments about your own company experiences or questions for the authors.
The white paper can be downloaded here in PDF format.
This series is curated by RP Siegel
The importance of embracing IT energy efficiency has never been more urgent than it is today. The integration of IT into almost every facet of business and society is driving exponential demand that will strain many organizations’ finances and IT capabilities to the limit. IT energy efficiency and increased IT resource utilization can offer substantial respite from these challenges and lead to more nimble, competitive organizations.
Taking into account all of the opportunities for increasing IT energy efficiency, how can an organization best approach the challenge of making its IT operations more sustainable? Here are the key principles for a successful transition to operating IT as a utility:
Starting at the Silicon level, certain components, such as “green” RAM and disk drives, can use less power at normal operational loads through lower voltage or other low power designs (e.g., solid-state drives instead of hard disk drives). Additionally, certain components, such as the CPU and hard disk drives, can dynamically lower their power needs when less busy or idle, typically in conjunction with the operating system.
Although energy efficiency is important, it doesn’t pay if it significantly reduces productivity, performance, and reliability. Some important systems are underutilized by design. For example, no one would seriously suggest sharing fire trucks among airports many miles apart to increase their utilization.
Most IT energy efficiency efforts have traditionally focused on physical infrastructure—deploying more energy-efficient computer hardware and cooling systems, using operating system power management features, and reducing the number of servers in data centers through hardware virtualization.
Server underutilization is a major barrier to energy efficiency. Most large IT departments have been trying to improve server utilization for some years, primarily through the use of server virtualization technology. But many of these efforts have stalled for a number of reasons including financial constraints, organizational politics, and a shortage of sufficiently skilled IT staff.
Two major trends in today’s world: concern about energy consumption and the ever-increasing use of computing power were bound to collide and indeed they have.
As a result, nearly all computer and data center equipment manufacturers are developing more energy-efficient hardware. Indeed, many manufacturers are stretching to reach increasingly stringent Energy Star standards.
In the previous post, we made the analogy between computational equipment and home furnaces, both of which tend to be overdesigned in light of anticipated peak demand, which results in highly inefficient operation. In the case of home furnaces, the concern is being able to heat the house on the coldest conceivable day. In the IT world, the concern is to make sure that the system will operate continuously and with the necessary speed under all circumstances.
Tight budgets, rising energy costs, and limits on electric power availability are hindering the ability of information technology (IT) departments to meet the growing demand for IT services. To mitigate these challenges, it is important for organizations to embrace IT energy efficiency principles to remain productive and competitive in the face of constrained and finite resources.