Server Farming

Nov 14 2008   9:30PM GMT

HP’s energy efficiency crusade to control server, data center power

Bridget Botelho Profile: Bridget Botelho

A few Hewlett Packard (HP) executives visited with me yesterday to discuss their Green data center mission – and surprisingly, they admit that it doesn’t always mean using HP hardware.

They started off our meeting with a discussion about new and existing server power control tools, which I’m not convinced many IT admins actually take advantage of.

HP’s new Dynamic Power Capping tool within Insight Power Manager lets IT set power caps on HP servers based on peak load trends to prevent over-provisioning of power. The cap can be set on single servers or on an entire chassis of blade servers, and can also be based on user-defined policies, according to HP’s VP of Enterprise Server and Storage Infrastructure Software Mark Linesch.

HP’s ProLiant servers shipped within the past few years already have the hardware for this feature baked into them, so ProLiant users need only do a firmware upgrade to add the Dynamic Power Capping feature, Linesch said.

“HP has invested a huge amount of money in green technology not just for the sake of being green. It has very practical implications that save companies significant amounts of money,” Linesch said.

Other companies offer power capping features on their servers as well, including IBM. IT can set a power cap for IBM servers and IBM BladeCenter systems via Active Energy Manager firmware, when the firmware supports capping.

These tools sound great, but I question whether or not power capping features are actually being used in data centers. I’d like to hear from users about this; power control features have existed on servers for many years, but does anyone use them? Is a tool like HP’s Dynamic Power Capping a viable option for virtualized servers?

HP’s execs also told me about their vendor-neutral data center efficiency consultancy services. Since HP’s acquisition of EYP Mission Critical Facilities Inc. a year ago this month, HP  has offered vendor agnostic consulting services to data centers to help them (for a fee) measure energy efficiency, without any pressure to use HP equipment, said Bill Kosik, energy and sustainability director of HP’s EYP Mission Critical Facilities group.

“That was actually part of the deal when we were acquired; we wanted to stay vendor neutral and we have been able to do that,” Kosik said.

So far, HP’s EYP group has performed consultancy work (including thermal mapping and energy analysis) for about 30 data centers that are either on the brink of a major power consumption dilemna or in a transition phase and need help planning, designing and developing their data center, Kosik said.

On November 3, HP announced new EYP services packaged in a tidy bundle, as vendors love to do, called HP Energy Efficiency Design and Analysis Services, which includes energy efficiency analysis and design services that help data centers meet compliance regulations like those from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

And of course, HP isn’t the only company offering  data center efficiency software and services to data centers these days. The list is long, which is great for consumers.

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