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4/18/2006
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AMD, HP, IBM, Sun Want To Make It Easy To Be Green

Tech vendors launch an effort to make it easier for IT professionals and data center managers to create more energy-efficient data centers.

Several major technology vendors launched an effort on Wednesday aimed at making it easier for IT professionals and data center managers to create more energy-efficient data centers. Called The Green Grid, the moved was backed by Advanced Micro Devices, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Sun Microsystems.

The goal is to help reduce growing power and cooling demands in enterprise data centers. That goal is supported by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Alliance to Save Energy. The Green Grid organization will be actively recruiting members over the summer, including both corporations and individual tech pros.

"IT professionals are telling us that demands on their data centers are growing to the point where they can no longer keep up, and they don't know how they can fix the problems within their existing footprint," says Bruce Shaw, director of worldwide commercial business at AMD. "We are hearing horror stories about having to build new data centers costing millions of dollars because they just can't keep up with the performance envelope."

In a November survey of 1,200 IT professionals commissioned by AMD, 83% said the biggest issue they face is cooling and power within the data center. Only 20% said they have a plan in place to fix the problem, Shaw says.

"We what we have is something of an epidemic, and it goes far beyond the processor," he says. "It needs to consider the entire ecosystem: the servers, networking, the air conditioning, heating and ventilation, power supplies, and even software."

The vision is to create a "living" user community patterned after the open-source community that will primarily meet online to share best practices and create a dialog to discuss methods of addressing the cooling and power issues in data centers. Interested parties can register online at TheGreenGrid.org.

In addition to IT professionals and technology companies, potential participants include power supply and energy companies, state and regional utilities, channel providers, and systems integrators. Shaw believes an initial symposium for members will likely be held in September or October.

A first step will be to create metrics for measuring performance and power consumption in data center equipment. Sun on Monday announced it was working with the Green Grid organization members, the EPA, and Lawrence Berkeley Labs to define a standard metric to measure energy efficiency in servers that could potentially work within the EPA's Energy Star program.

"The question will be, what is the best metric to measure?" Shaw says. "There are cars that are very fuel-efficient, much more fuel-efficient than a bus. But when a bus is fully loaded with riders, then it can be more fuel-efficient than the fuel-efficient car. So do we measure performance, wattage, or bandwidth? That will take time to work out."

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