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8/8/2007
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Data Center Energy Efficiency Focus Of Technology Road Map

The Green Grid consortium's report comes on the heels of an EPA study promoting best practices for reducing power consumption in data centers.

Green Grid, a consortium of about 80 technology, end-user, and other companies focused on promoting data center energy efficiency, yesterday released a road map that can help improve energy efficiency in data centers.

The road map comes on the heels of a new data center energy efficiency report presented to Congress last week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In its report, the EPA said power consumption in data centers more than doubled from 2000 to 2005, and will double again by 2011, costing $7.4 billion annually unless the private and government sectors put into place energy efficiency programs.

The Green Grid road map sets an agenda for "deliverables" by the group, including identifying and setting standards, metrics, and best practices for data center energy efficiency. Those standards, metrics, and best practices could also vary depending on the kind of systems operating in a data center, whether they are high-performance, enterprise, or Web. 2.0 applications, says John Tuccillo, a VP at American Power Conversion, and a board member of Green Grid.

Green Grid aims to make available tools and guidelines that can help organizations measure and compare the energy efficiency of their data centers compared to standards and baselines, as well as best practices to help organizations improve their data center energy efficiency, says Mark Monroe, director of sustainable computing at Sun Microsystems and also a Green Grid board member.

The road map includes a number of milestones for 2007, including the goal for Green Grid to have an assessment by the fourth quarter of how existing technologies can be applied to improve data center power efficiency.

In its report, EPA made a number of recommendations for data center power savings, including strategies using current technologies -- such as application server consolidation -- that could be implemented in ways that do not compromise data center availability, performance, or security.

Existing technologies and design strategies can reduce annual energy consumption in data centers by 25%, says the EPA report, which was prepared by a team led by researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory with input from more than 130 "key stakeholders," including members of Green Grid.

Ken Brill, executive director at consulting firm Uptime Institute says that with many U.S. companies refreshing their servers every three to five years, data centers have tens of thousands of "comatose" servers that consume significant power each year, but are rarely used.

Those servers represent an opportunity for energy savings by moving the data to "less power-intensive storage," that would continue to allow availability of the data but "less quickly," he says. For most companies, "only 10% of data [being stored] is accessed in 90 days," he says. Those comatose servers are akin to file cabinets with paper documents that are rarely if ever looked at, he says.

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