The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Value of Data Centers and the need for modernization

I viewed a recent video that HP put out about data center management...


 <sorry the video has been removed, but there is a new one>


It reminded me of when I spoke at the re-dedication of the HP data center in Plano, TX (after 20 years of operation). In the speech , I focused on the new types of value that will be generated by computing and this video focused on many of those same issues.


When I wrote that speech, power consumption was just starting to be a major issue, now we have a whole other set of concerns to address. Additionally the leveraged data center and cloud have its own set of drivers. But data centers are still important to most organizations on a daily basis.


The video might be a bit more high-level than I like, but the premise that the use of sensors and analysis allow the kind of visibility and transparency that businesses require today and the data centers need to support the data flow and the services levels that are required when the information flow is an integral part of business operation.


One thing to keep in mind is that when looking at the computing resources in an organization, a whole range of assessments are required. The following is an excerpt from the chapter I wrote in The Next Wave of Technologies book that recently came out:


" For each one-hundred watts of power that is dug out of the ground in the form of coal, a significant portion (as much as 60 percent) is consumed in the power plant itself. Another ten percent is lost in the transmission process to get the power to the data center. This is one of the reasons many organizations are moving their data centers close to power plants. They are usually given power at lower rates, because they do not have to pay the transmission line penalty.


Once the power arrives at the traditional data center, another thirteen percent of the original energy is consumed by cooling, lighting and power conditioning. New techniques in lighting and data center design are being applied to address this area. A technique that is being investigated in many organizations to cut down the loss in power conditioning is the Direct Current (DC) only data center, but this requires special approaches to both powering the equipment as well as the power supplies in the equipment itself.


Now that the electricity has finally reached the servers, the power supplies and fans consume another eight percent of the original power. This leaves approximately nine of the original one-hundred watts available to do work. Most computers run at fifteen percent efficiency or less, so that leaves approximately one watt to apply to applications. If we take out hold over, obsolete applications that do not add value, and inefficient processes that are in most businesses, hardly any real business value comes out of that initial one-hundred watts of power.


Understanding the portfolio of hardware and software and weeding out the dead wood can radically improve the carbon footprint of an organization's IT investment. If you were able to kill off a parasitic application that has stopped generating value and save one watt worth of power at the server, it actually can save one-hundred watts worth of power being pulled out of the ground. Some examples of how power can be saved at every step have been included. However, keep in mind the effect of saving power on the right side of the diagram is amplified by the supply chain all the way back to the start."


 Improvements can be made at every level, but it is clear that the lever arm is quite a bit longer on the right side of the illustration.

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