Blog

infrastructure, manufacturer
Comments Off on Presentation at Fujitsu Labs of America Technology Symposium 2012

I was very fortunate to be able to attend the 2012 Fujitsu Labs of America Technology Symposium in June. The topics were varied and interesting, from emerging technologies in education to You Tube’s exponential growth.  My panel was on Intelligent Transportation Systems and how they will be driving bandwidth requirements and technology change.

 

The first presenter in my session was from Fujitsu Japan, and he demonstrates a very interesting model that was built using automatic vehicle locators (AVL) in taxi cabs during the aftermath of the Tsunami.  My presentation starts at 28:00, and then there is a roundtable session after.

 

I highly recommend spending a few moments surfing through the FLATS2012 ustream.tv channel because some of the presentations were fascinating.  I was lucky to be allowed to be a part of this group.

Video streaming by Ustream

data center, energy consumption, infrastructure, manufacturer
Comments Off on Observations about the LEED Process

The LEED saga continues.  I’ve mentioned some of the challenges that we’ve faced, but today presented another interesting one.  I assumed because our purchasing specifications included statements like “systems that comply with the US EPA Energy Star requirements” that we would qualify for the Energy Star points on the LEED rating system.  Today, I learned how naive I am.  In fact, while several vendors have machines that in fact to have an EPA stamp of Energy Star compliance, they are few and far between right now.

 

Energy Star was a program started initially around residential power use.  As a result, most items that have the Energy Star seal are appliances or electronics in the consumer space.  A check of the EPA website shows fewer than 15 enterprise, server class machines that qualify for the rating.  So while many vendors state that they have Energy Star-compliant equipment, they do not in fact have too many machines that actually went through and successfully completed the process.

 

Let’s compare some from my data center as examples.  We run an HP shop (this is not an endorsement of their product or a sales pitch, just disclosure that we have them as an architectural standard).  So I have a wide variety of their equipment.  For our Microsoft Exchange upgrade, we installed Energy Star certified HP Proliant DL380 G6 rack-optimized servers.  These are currently the only series of HP machines that have the seal.  For most of my purchasing, however, I prefer HP BL460c G6 or HP BL680c G6 machines that slot into a blade chassis.  What is nice about blades is that they share components like power supplies and fans.  So this reduces the power pull, and reduces the amount of waste in the product.  So from a product life cycle perspective, they are a better choice.

 

In spite of our choice to generally rely on the more energy-efficient and therefore more eco-friendly choice of the blade servers, we actually cannot claim the LEED energy star credit because these servers are merely “EnergyStar Compliant” instead of certified.  This is needless-t0-say an unfortunate outcome as we are inching closer to a possible Gold certification and any point that we miss now keeps us from that nearly impossible goal.

data center, energy consumption, hardware, manufacturer
Comments Off on AMD Runs with the Green Bulls: New Barcelona Chip Delivers on Power Saving Promises

by Angela Miller
The Internet and press are atwitter this week with the announcement of AMD’s new Barcelona quad-core chip. The chip, also known as the Opteron 64, delivers something the competitors did not: a native quad-core design that allows for sophisticated power management. According to the testing I’ve reviewed, the chip delivers up to twice the performance of the duo-core processors but uses the same amount of power.

The design element which differentiates this chip is its native quad-core design which allows each core to be utilized and managed independently. This is a strong design element from the power-management perspective: in the duo-core paired design, the paired cores generally run at the same power level. So if one core is at 75% power so is the other no matter what the processing requirement. In the native quad-core design, the power requirements of each core are managed independently. This simple design change delivers significant power savings.

While some reviewers are saying that AMD is very late to the quad-core game, I believe their design philosophy and the significant power savings prove worth the wait. In addition to the native power savings this chip provides, the sophisticated tools for server virtualization are very strong. Strong enough that Rackspace Managed Hosting decided to deploy the chip after rigorous testing throughout their hosted data center.

We should see over the next several weeks testing centers putting this chip through the paces versus other competitive offerings. I look forward to seeing what the guys at Tom’s Hardware have to say toward validating the performance statements from AMD’s marketing department.

Dig deeper on the issues:

I relied on the following sites for analysis in support of this post:

AMD
TechTarget
CIO
Sustainable IT Blog

data center, energy consumption, hardware, manufacturer
Comments Off on PodTech: Interview with HP on Green Tech

PodTech posted an interesting discussion with HP’s Senior Vice President of Technology Services. While most of the big IT vendors are making a play in this arena now, this interview was a quick and accessible discussion of one vendor’s approach to power management.

data center, energy consumption, hardware, manufacturer
Comments Off on Western Digital’s Green Hard Drives: What Does the Announcement Mean for IT Managers?

by Angela MillerI read with interest Western Digital’s announcement of their new GreenPower Drives. Their marketing statement is that this line of drives can save a significant amount of energy over all their competitors’ drives. Western Digital intends to deploy the GreenPower technology primarily on their desktop and notebook drives – most notably on the 3.5″ Caviar SATA drives and the 2.5″ Scorpio mobile drives. They will launch their enterprise GP drives in the later part of 2007.  Their specifications and cited industry research assert that they can save 4-5 watts over competitor drives in idle mode. I tried to substantiate this number with some simple research of specifications offered by the different main competitors in the space using the 3.5″ Caviar SATA 500GB drive as the primary comparison. Because Western Digital has not yet announced specifications for the enterprise, I chose three primary competitors based on Gartner estimates of the share of the desktop market: Seagate, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, and Samsung.

Manufacturer/Drive Idle EfficiencyIndex
Western Digital Caviar SATA 500GB 7200 rpm 4 watts .0006 w/GB

Looking at these numbers is a little like looking at the MPG estimate stickers on cars so it also seemed prudent to see whether any respected technical testing entities had put these drives through their paces. While a review of Tom’s Hardware, AnandTech, ComputerWorld, Storage IO, and The Tech Report, showed that none of these entities had yet tested the Western Digital GP specification, most other specifications came close to the advertised numbers.From an enterprise IT perspective, choosing a drive that natively uses significantly less power than comparable drives will result in energy savings. If a company converts to drives that will use ½ of the power of other drives, the company might save as much as $10/year/drive in energy cost.But as a former IT manager, I would have a few concerns:- In my experience, IT Managers at the enterprise level make decisions about desktop equipment based on the computer vendor rather than components. Rarely would the IT manager specify a particular hard drive, or make a decision on the vendor based solely on the hard drive they offer.- At the enterprise level, IT Managers depend on vendors to provide an overall solution: you could not approach HDS and request Western Digital as a drive vendor when their OEM providers are HGST and Seagate.- None of the drives will attain peak energy efficiency performance numbers without serious consideration to configuration, software setup, and consolidation. The bottom line- one 1TB drive will use less energy than 4 250GB drives.The important take-away from the Western Digital announcement from my perspective: Western Digital is setting the bar higher for energy efficiency and will force their competitors to rise to that expectation in order to retain market share. This energy efficiency innovation will stimulate the hard drive market toward more future improvements.

Dig deeper on the issues:

I relied on the following sites for analysis in support of this post:GartnerWestern DigitalSamsungHitachi Global Storage TechnologiesSeagateTom’s HardwareAnandTechStorageIOThe Tech Report

energy consumption, hardware, manufacturer
Comments Off on Comparing Technology Energy Efficiency: AMD vs. Intel

by Angela Miller
Infoworld’s Ted Samson published a story this week about the results of a comprehensive study comparing AMD and Intel on energy efficiency. This of course resulted in a significant number of complaints about study methodology – many of which were indeed valid. At least there are some studies available to benchmark the energy efficiency of components. This highlights to me an area where more information would be needed in order to make a valid comparison – like EPA gas mileage on a vehicle or an energy star efficiency rating on a white good. Unfortunately, in the information technology arena decision makers often rely on marketing collateral, specifications, and white papers from vendors.

So I was excited to see this story and to find links to other analysis performed by Tom’s Hardware and Anandtech. The conclusion of all three: AMD beats Intel on a strict energy efficiency metric. Add heat generation into the mix and the numbers shift more impressively in AMD’s favor.

What is of greater interest to me is how an IT Manager might use this analysis in making the decision on what to purchase if they were concerned about greening their IT department. As a former IT Manager I would find it difficult to make a business case one way or another based on these studies. While the new AMD chips could save you an estimated $90/yr per server, most organizations would not make an investment choice based on this one number.

The Tom’s Hardware study makes a good point:

The CPU is not the only component that makes a PC energy efficient. Choose the wrong motherboard or power supply and the most energy efficient processor in the world won’t do a bit of good.

Dig deeper on the issues:

I relied on the following sites for analysis in support of this post:

Ted Samson’s Infoworld Sustainable IT Blog
Tom’s Hardware
Anandtech

environment, green computing, manufacturer
Comments Off on Green Computing hits the big time: Google’s Climate Savers Initiative

google logoby Angela Miller
Google brought more excitement to green computing this week with their announcement that they are promoting a new Climate Saver’s Initiative. This coupled with their ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship puts a stake in the ground on what corporations can do to green their information technology and their entire company operations.

Needless to say the Internet is atwitter today over this announcement. It is easy to be impressed. First of all they were able to negotiate a consortium of big name players to commit to the mission of Climate Savers: IBM, Microsoft, Dell, Intel, EDS, even the EPA and the World Wildlife Fund. They have the right balance of big-name technology vendors, government, and nonprofit to kick it off. Google already demonstrated a commitment to reach further than corporate acquisition of carbon offsets, for instance, with their construction of solar energy capacity, fleet of clean vehicles, and locally-sourced food in their corporate cafeteria. The fact that Mr. Weihl’s title on his blog is green energy czar is testimony to the seriousness with which they are approaching their greening initiatives. They have the legitimacy and power of a positive corporate brand behind it. And they have people talking, which can only be good.

Not every company will put this kind of emphasis on their environmental responsibility. But Google is an excellent example of what can be accomplished at the corporate level. They clearly have a thought-leadership position for greening of corporate operations.

For companies that want to take smaller steps, Mr. Weihl makes some great points in his post about the efficiency and optimization of current resources, for example power saving features on existing personal computers. How small steps toward optimizing current technology resources could have significant energy savings for the typical company.

Having big-named players demonstrate their commitment to the environment in such progressive and economically-justifiable ways gives me hope that other companies will see the value in taking even small steps toward greening their technology.

Dig deeper on the issues:

I relied on the following sites for analysis in support of this post:

Bill Weihl’s Official Google Blog Post

ITWire
PodTech audio announcement of Climate Savers
NetworkWorld
Wall Street Journal

data center, energy consumption, green computing, hardware, manufacturer
Comments Off on Green Computing: The Basics

by Angela Miller
With the rise of the environmental movement over the last decade, it should come as no surprise that the concept of ‘green computing’ is gathering steam. Now that vendors recognize that from a branding perspective there exists opportunity in being environmentally friendly, many companies are diving into green computing with gusto. But as vendors begin to tout their capabilities, CIOs and IT Managers may find their companies unwilling to invest in these new capabilities simply to meet the objective of being greener.

For most enterprise and small-to-medium businesses, decisions will instead be made on whether the investment presents good return-on-investment (ROI).

To build the right business case, IT decision makers must understand the basics about green computing and how this investment could both improve their corporate social responsibility and their financial bottom line. Armed with the information, implementing changes that positively impact the environment becomes the right ecological and economic decision.

This post focuses on the basic elements that most IT decision makers will find immediately palatable: energy efficiency, reduction in cooling requirements, and consolidation. Future posts will investigate more advanced green computing concepts like alternative energy sourcing, renewable energy credits, carbon offsets, and certification.

Energy Efficiency

According to Dec-2006 IDC study,

“50 cents is spent on energy for every dollar of computer hardware. This is expected to increase by 54 percent to 71 cents over the next four years.”

While many companies do not consider the facility costs as part of the ROI and total cost of ownership (TCO) for IT projects, increasing energy bills may force this issue.

Consider the analysis compiled by Dr. Janathan Koomey at the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory on just the estimated server energy consumption for the United States:

“Total power used by servers represented about 0.6% of the total U.S. energy consumption in 2005. When cooling and auxiliary infrastructure are considered, that number grows to 1.2%.”

This analysis was quick to point out that it included only the servers and their required infrastructure, not storage and other IT infrastructure components. Clearly it underestimates the overall resource demand for enterprise data centers. Of greatest concern, however, was his point that electricity demand for servers doubled between 2000 and 2005. Obviously this is not a desirable or sustainable trend.

Tremendous savings could be realized by enterprise data centers if they could deploy more energy-efficient infrastructure. The economics for energy efficiency seem obvious.

Reduction in Cooling Demands

One reality of information technology is that it generates tremendous heat that requires cooling in order to ensure stability in the data center. Even the users’ desktops, laptops, and printers, generate significant heat in the typical office building that requires additional cooling. The cost of cooling are some of the most expensive, energy-intensive demands placed on facilities and significantly reducing the heat load will again result in substantial energy savings.

Consolidation

In my experience, taking a walk through a typical corporate data center never looks like the clean and homogenous picture we see in advertising. Instead, data centers I’ve seen contain a mix of server and storage types, most of which are under-utilized in the name of user performance expectations, poor retirement planning, and changing architectural directions. Almost every CIO for which I have worked has attempted the great consolidation project in the hopes of reducing the complexity and maintenance cost of the infrastructure.

Consolidation also makes good environmental sense if the equipment is chosen wisely, is more efficient than the sum of its replaced parts, is operated in a way that optimizes the energy consumption and performance, and is accompanied by a solid retirement plan for the outdated equipment.

Interestingly many consolidation projects seem to result in new equipment being introduced without the departure of the myriad of servers they were intended to replace.

Also of significant concern – the appropriate recycling and disposal of the retired equipment.

Dig deeper on the issues:

I relied on the following sites for analysis in support of this post:

Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory
Wikipedia “Green Computing” definition
IDC
Gartner
David Merrill, Hitachi Data Systems blog
“Green Computing Picks up Momentum” – ComputerWorld

think energy

by Angela Miller
As an both an Information Technology professional and an environmental scientist, I have often found one side of myself having to compromise in order to satisfy the other. For years I’ve needed to ignore the growing energy demands of my different employers’ ever-expanding server rooms in order to bow to the needs of users to have applications and systems constantly in a state of readiness.

It occurred to me as I was working with my previous company Hitachi Data Systems on their RoHS/WEEE compliance initiatives that now may just be the time when IT departments can change the tide. Almost every major server and storage vendor has made a commitment this year to producing equipment that affords the opportunity to gain control of energy consumption in the data center. And most vendors are well on their way to producing equipment more friendly to the environment by at least complying with the interational RoHS/WEEE directives.

But is this enough?

With so much attention on personal environmental accountability today, I thought it would be interesting to focus on corporate environmental responsibility – especially on the concept of ‘green computing.’

Many of the big vendors began publicizing their theories on how their products can help companies green their IT departments. It is interesting that most of the discussion centers around energy efficiency – a concept that was born over 15 years ago through the EnergyStar program. While this program was successful with an individual appliance, it emphasized consumer electronics for the home more than corporate infrastructure. Seems this is about to change as vendors now tout their new alliances with the EnergyStar program and new initiatives to capture the attention of prospective customers through their environmental friendliness, and as the program considers requirements for their standards version 4.0.

But, again, is this enough? Energy efficiency is a great starting point, and RoHS/WEEE manufacturing compliance is a necessary goal … but for the average IT Manager, will simply procuring these items be enough to green their IT? And are IT departments truly concerned about becoming greener? The environmental scientist in me says no — there is more that can and should be done.

This blog will be to investigate the greening of Information Technology – and whether that is an attainable goal without substantial culture shift in corporations.