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Interop: Green Strategies Needed For Storage

Storage industry leaders call for metrics and best practices for businesses to use to cut down on storage energy costs, similar to what the Green Grid has begun doing for data centers.

Energy costs over the lifetime of storage devices have likely overtaken the initial price of that storage, SW Worth, senior standards program manager in Microsoft's storage solutions division and a member of the board of directors of the Storage Networking Industry Association, said Thursday at Interop New York.

According to Worth, Dell estimates that between 30 and 40% of its IT-related energy costs come from storage, while Worth himself wrote in a presentation that a good rule of thumb would be something more like 20%. With that in mind, SNIA is working to come up with metrics and best practices for businesses to use to cut down on storage energy costs, similar to what the Green Grid has begun doing for data centers.

SNIA has held a series of three events it calls "Unplugfests," the most recent this week, to do things like figure out how much storage arrays cost to run when they're idle. The results of those events will be released in the next few months, but Worth reports the industry association is already making surprising preliminary findings, such as the fact that storage arrays use more than 80% of their peak power even when idle.

There are a number of steps companies can take to cut down on storage energy costs, Worth said. For example, they could opt for solid state storage in some areas because operational costs for solid state disks are so low. Companies can also buy slower disks wherever latency isn't an issue, make sure to use appropriate RAID levels and of course, consolidate storage so that fewer devices are running.

Many factors influence how green the storage actually is, Worth said. He added that even the file system that a company chooses to use could influence power costs for storage by as much as 10%.

Green storage has grown a significantly as a topic of interest in the last year or two, Worth said. Worth gave his first talk on green storage 1 1/2 years ago, and next month there will be four tutorial sessions at Storage Networking World on the topic.

Even the government will likely get into the act soon. The Environmental Protection Agency will soon put out Energy Star recommendations for data center equipment, and storage will eventually be one of their targets, though it will specifically be excluded from the first round of standards recommendations.

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