Green Storage Technologies

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In an effort to increase energy efficiency of storage technologies, the Storage Network Industry Association (SNIA) formed a group known as the Green Storage Initiative.

“Part of the issue for data centers in general is there’s no silver-bullet approach to dealing with energy efficiency because you have so many moving parts,” said Tom Clark, principal engineer at Brocade, who is currently on the governing board of the Green Storage Initiative. “You have servers, storage platforms, network equipment, cooling, air-conditioning, infrastructure, backup power supplies and so on.”

The group’s primary objective since its inception about two years ago has been to urge vendors and end users to go green.

“The intention is to develop methodologies and standards that would define how we measure the energy efficiency of storage technologies and encourage our vendor members to be much more cognizant of the energy consequences of what they produce in the market — as well as our end-user customers,” Clark said.

Another group within the SNIA — known as the Technical Working Group (TWG) — is in charge of the actual standards formulations and standards development. For instance, TWG hosts events called “Un-PlugFests,” in which vendors come together and try to determine the best ways to evaluate the energy draw of storage systems.

“The result is an initial power measurement specification that defines methodologies for making sure you can have apples-to-apples comparisons between products,” Clark explained.

Developing a system that is capable of classifying comparable systems is a necessary step.

“One of the challenges was to create a taxonomy where we could [classify] a wide diversity of storage technologies such as disk media, disk media composed of different classes of drives [and] technologies like backup systems,” Clark explained. “The taxonomy provides a way to divide out these various categories of storage technologies and [create] classes within the categories so that you don’t end up comparing a high-end, high-availability storage system to an entry-level system.”

Green storage refers to a broad spectrum of solutions ranging from sheer hardware efficiency to more application-level software, Clark explained.

“There are different technologies aside from just making more efficient power supplies and more efficient hardware design, such as storage virtualization and data deduplication, that can also reduce the amount of physical power-drawing hardware required,” he said.

– Deanna Hartley, dhartley@certmag.com

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Deanna Hartley

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