November 21, 2008 -- An industry-wide measure of data center efficiency "is a critical next step in addressing IT energy consumption," contends a new white paper issued by Emerson Network Power. The latest installment of the company's "Energy Logic" white paper series advances a discussion started last year with the initial Energy Logic white paper, described as "a prioritized roadmap for optimizing energy use without compromising availability or flexibility."
The company notes that the first Energy Logic analysis did not, however, address data center efficiency directly, because without a universally accepted metric for data center output, efficiency cannot be accurately quantified. The new white paper, titled "Energy Logic: Calculating and Prioritizing Your Data Center IT Efficiency Actions," takes the next step by using a placeholder metric to highlight the value of measuring data center efficiency in the same way that miles-per-gallon (MPG) provides an easily understood, agreed-upon efficiency measure for cars.
Specifically, the new Energy Logic white paper introduces the concept of CUPS, or Compute Units per Second, to demonstrate how a metric can work. CUPS is a relative measure of server output, based on average server performance in 2002. Using data from multiple industry sources, Emerson Network Power calculated the change in CUPS between 2002 and 2007, providing a common server performance measure required to calculate efficiency. Data center professionals can experiment with CUPS relative to their own data center in an online data center efficiency calculator available at www.efficientdatacenters.com.
Emerson reports that CUPS uncovers an important fact i.e. while data center energy consumption has risen in recent years, these increases have been accompanied by dramatic gains in data center output and efficiency. If data center output had remained flat between 2002 and 2007, the efficiency improvements achieved would have cut 2007 data center consumption to one-eighth the 2002 consumption.
The analysis also helps data center managers prioritize energy efficiency decisions. Using the CUPS metric, the report shows that 10 prioritized strategies proposed in the original Energy Logic white paper increase data center efficiency by 3.6 times. The measurement also pinpoints three strategies with the most impact – faster replacement of IT technologies, virtualization and high-density architecture.
"Our goal with this next step in Energy Logic is to illustrate how a metric can uncover important insights about performance while helping data center managers prioritize efficiency efforts," comments Jack Pouchet, director of energy initiatives for Emerson Network Power. "Ultimately, a universal metric will help data center professionals make significant improvements in energy efficiency while meeting growing performance demands."
To promote industry discussion and debate toward development of an agreed-upon approach, the white paper offers three criteria that an efficiency metric should meet: it should drive the right behavior; be available and published at the IT device level to help buyers make the right choice; and be scalable from the IT device to the data center level.
"We continue to emphasize that today's increasingly efficient technologies, along with effective management strategies, can help drive data center efficiency," concludes Michael Zatz, manager of the U.S. EPA's ENERGY STAR Commercial Buildings Program. "Through continued discussion and information sharing, the data center community can continue to deliver critical benefits to our economy and society while reducing energy usage."
The aforementioned www.efficientdatacenters.com is a new Web site developed by Emerson Network Power to offer data center professionals information on the latest advances in energy efficiency.
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