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» VIEW ALL POSTS Feb 13 2009   10:31PM GMT

Green Grid Postmortem: Successes and the work ahead



Posted by: Matt Stansberry
Tags:
Data Center
Green data center
User Groups

This column was contributed by Deborah Grove of Grove Associates.

Day one of The Green Grid Technical Forum was largely a brag about how much work was done in 2008, and the evidence is truly impressive. I saw how the work done in 2007 paid off the following year because the infrastructure was in place to make white papers, partnerships, outreach and collaboration happen in what seemed to be effortless, well-designed information dissemination.

The Green Grid introduced new interactive tools under development, including the following:

  • Free Cooling Map Web tool;
  • PUE Calculator tool; and
  • Power Configurations Calculator, an online efficiency estimator tool.

The Free Cooling Map, based on weather data, was designed to show where in the U.S. it is possible to obtain free cooling for data center economizers (fresh air or evaporative cooling). Future extension to Europe and Asia Pacific are planned. One map was designed for fresh air (dry bulb) cooling and the other was for evaporative cooling (wet bulb). Upcoming features will allow you enter your data center’s zip code and see how many hours of free cooling you can expect.

The PUE Calculator Tool is designed to accurately compute power usage effectiveness in a consistent manner. The tool will compare data center container designs as well as brick-and-mortar data centers. The measurement system will include power transfer switches, uninterruptible power supply, power distribution units, cooling towers, condenser chiller pumps, fire suppression, security systems, servers and more. The remaining controversy is over air movers (fanless servers) because rack-based air movers could be considered either IT or facility load, depending on your point of view.

Pam Lembke of IBM presented on the Power Configurations Calculator, which allows users to compare efficiency curves on power distribution topologies and create their own topologies based on their own power distribution equipment configurations.

Andrew Fanara, director of the data center energy efficiency program for the Environmental Protection Agency, said he is very pleased and positive about the work done by the Green Grid and expects it to be very beneficial if changes in public policy drive up electricity rates.

Jim Pappas of Intel Corp. said that the level of participation from other industry groups, such as the Storage Networking Industry Association and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers, or ASHRAE, is unprecedented. “Work group volunteers clearly understand that they are there not to get their names known, but rather to get some engineering collateral that helps you get your job done,” Pappas said.

Paul Scheihing of the Department of Energy (DoE) said he has worked with trade groups for many years and gives The Green Grid an “A” for its rapid and high-quality work. A Memorandum of Understanding between The Green Gird and DoE for a 10% energy savings commitment across the industry illustrates that they are serious about making progress.

What’s next for The Green Grid 2010?
Who will be on the podium next year who was not represented this year at The Green Grid Technical Forum? The U.S. Green Building Council, the Ethernet Alliance, the Distributed Management Task Force or the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation? The networking and storage industries are large energy consumers. Will they be at the table?

The Green Grid’s Data Center 2.0 strategy is to integrate software, networking, storage and facilities. Software companies can no longer hide under the radar. We need to bring them into the conversation along with the hardware and infrastructure teams. The invite is out. If you can contribute with your knowledge of service-oriented architecture, Open Applications Group standards or additional software platforms that are energy-aware, there is a seat at the table of The Green Grid

Of course, a lot of the discussion on Data Center 2.0 is still like unbaked bread, with a mushy, doughy consistency. Enterprise applications, for example: What is the right software performance metric? The intelligence in instrumentation is available, but the work groups have to understand what to measure.

Green IT and the economy
The shrinking marketplace was discussed at length in conversations with colleagues from the vendor community. Most of the people I spoke with were fairly optimistic in the face of delayed new sales, believing that our industry will find a way through this recession by exhibiting solid management skills. Perhaps the pessimists didn’t make it to this meeting, or maybe it’s a mark of America’s positive spin that we aren’t discussing the downsizing of the market from the podium. When sales forecasts drop so dramatically, shouldn’t we address them, even from the podium at a technical forum?

The last comment aside, I was pleased to have interacted with so many bright and pleasant people who are doing all they can to move the conversation about data center energy efficiency into the 21st Century.

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