Thursday, June 26, 2008

Real data center efficiency project results

I spent the day at the SVLG data center energy summit, where 11 actual case studies were presented, each detailing how companies and their technology partners addressed energy efficiency, while quantifying the specific results. For all of the hubub with industry associations talking about theory, metrics, standards and efficiency, today marked the first time someone is actually doing something. And, representing Cassatt's efforts, I was happy to provide input and real-life user data as well.

We had about 300 people in the room, including press, analysts, industry and government. It was a full day of presentations and reviews of various types of projects that were undertaken, as well as what the outcomes were. The results given during the day were then collated by Teresa Tung of Accenture Technology Labs, and compared against the results posited by the 2007 EPA report to congress on data center energy efficiency. The results matched up quite well. (even Andrew Fanara, EPA Energy Star's project director, blew a sigh of relief that his report in fact matched reality).

The complete set of session reports, as well as the Accenture report, are already on the web for all to see and learn from. That others could learn from these pioneers was part of the goal of the day.

The first session of the day featured IT resource optimization. Synopsis outlined how they consolidated data centers and saved power, square feet and more. Cassatt (presented by yours truly) then described how Active Power Management helped a nearby company curb over 20% of their power bill with innovative power management software.

The day also had a number of sessions sponsored by Lawrence Berkeley Labs, Oracle, the USPS, Power Assure and others, focussing on air flow management, cooling, power distribution projects and more.

Over lunch, we were treated to a CIO panel that included Teri Takai, California's CIO -- overseeing more than 120 other CIOs of state agencies (how does it feel to be CIO for the earth's 7th largest economy?) plus PK Agarwal, California's CTO.

I also sat in on a session given by Dave Shroyer of NetApp, Bill Tschudi of Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, and Ray Pfeifer -- covering NetApp's ultra-efficient data centers. Dave pointed out that during certain seasons of the year, NetApp achieves a PUE of 1.19!! That's probably the best I've heard of ever.

Finally, at the end of the day, Accenture presented its report findings, summarizing the results of the 11 projects. Receiving the report were Andrew Fanara of the EPA, Paul Roggensack of the California Energy Commission, Paul Scheihing of the DOE, Bill Tschudi of Lawrence Berkeley labs, and Kevin Timmons of Yahoo. I suppose you could call this peer-review. But what it finally signals to the industry is that people are finally taking action, comparing reality against theory, and sharing their pragmatic best-practices. Crazy as this sounds, I feel it was a seminal event, and hope that other industry associations follow suit.

I'm sure you'll see additional coverage of this by other online folks I met there: Debra Grove of Grove Associates, as well as Rich Miller of Data Center Knowledge.

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