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Power and Efficiency? Look No Further than Green Data Storage


Are You on the Hunt for


WRITTEN BY JON TOIGO F


OR a growing number of firms today, power efficiency has become an important


dimension of any assessment of data storage technologies. The reason for the connection is simple. Data storage gear accounts for between 33% and 70% of overall IT hardware spending. As early as 2005, companies like Dell were reporting that storage gear was the biggest power pig in their data centers. The ascendency of storage to the forefront of the green discussion was a by-product of server consolidation and server virtualization, the latter accounting for data storage infrastructure power spikes that weren’t originally predicted. Going to virtual machines required many companies to increase their storage capacity exponentially and to break up Fibre Channel (FC) fabrics in favor of more hypervisor-friendly


direct-attached storage (DAS) or network-attached storage (NAS) topologies. Not surprisingly, Gartner recently


doubled IDC’s estimates for storage growth over the next three years. While IDC pegged capacity demand increases at 300% over the next three years, Gartner raised the bar to 650% in a recent estimate. Both firms attribute the demand spike to the increasing adoption of server virtualization. Individually, disk drives aren’t huge


power users, consuming between 3.5 watts and 11 watts in the latest “green” technology units. However, drives are typically placed into arrays that include a server/controller, power supplies, fans, and other gear to provide a kit to the consumer that features whatever “value-add” features the vendor is promoting this week. Late last year, Hewlett-Packard’s 3PAR IOPS


12 WWW.PCCONNECTION.COM 1.800.800.0014


record in the Storage Performance Council’s SPC-1 Benchmark required the parallel spinning of 1,900 drives.


What’s the Bottom Line? As storage infrastructure continues


to grow in capacity, so does equipment power cost (and related air conditioning and ventilation power costs that increase as the need to transfer heat away from all the storage gear does). Given an upward 15% to 22% trajectory in the annual cost of a kilowatt-hour of utility power, the cost of energy is no longer a trivial matter. And according to the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC), which furnishes the U.S. government with reports on utility power generation and distribution statistics, the problems companies are experiencing obtaining additional power in saturated areas of the U.S. power grid (mainly


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