Energy Efficiency: Working Toward a Comprehensive Solution

There’s little doubt that enterprises across the board have expressed a strong commitment to adopting energy efficiency as a guiding force behind future data center developments. Economic reasons alone have forced many organizations to take a hard look at the true cost of their information environments.

However, good intentions have a way of stopping short in the face of cold, hard reality. And the fact is that aside from some of basic architectural and behavioral changes that have already taken place, energy efficiency is likely to be a significant challenge in the coming decade.

Take the notion of powering down idle systems. According to Pike Research, non-working hardware consumes about half the energy compared to those in an active state, so employing automated shut-off technologies could save enterprises a bundle. However, concerns over availability and response times inhibit such designs, and the added complication of virtualization makes it harder to identify those resources that truly are on stand-by.

And to be truly effective, IT power management needs to be integrated into broader oversight architectures, exceeding even the Data Center Infrastructure Management market that has arisen in the past year or so. Energy analyst firm Verdantix has identified eight software categories in the energy management sector. As yet, no single application is capable of extracting energy data from all electricity-consuming devices, leaving organizations no choice but to devise their own ad hoc wrap-around architectures, usually with limited success.

But just because the ideal solution doesn’t exist, there’s no reason for IT to simply throw up its hands. For many energy hogs like servers, advances are coming in at a steady clip. Server Technology, for example, recently launched a new version of its Sentry Power Manager platform, along with updated cabinet and power distribution units. The package provides a Web 2.0-based management infrastructure capable of handling discovery, setup, configuration and upgrades for the entire server power distribution network.

As well, JouleX has made a number of enhancements to its JouleX Energy Manager (JEM) suite, including advanced control for improved power capping and CDU leveling, improved metrics to guide the distribution of virtual machines and a new analytics and reporting regime to help in procurement and deployment of new systems. The package also feature full support for leading power management platforms like Cisco’s EnergyWise and Intel’s Data Center Management system.

Whenever contemplating any green initiative, it’s important not to let the perfect, or even the optimal, get in the way of progress. Energy efficiency is going to be a lengthy process, no doubt replete with many false starts and wrong turns. The goal, however, is a worthy one in that it should produce not only a streamlined, more efficient infrastructure, but a more productive one as well.


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