Thursday, 14 June 2012

HP has announced a ‘Net-Zero Energy’ data centre architecture

HPHP has released details of an architecture for a data centre that requires no net energy from traditional power grids.

It’s based on research from HP labs that shows how the architecture, combined with holistic energy-management techniques, enables organisations to cut total power usage by 30%, as well as dependence on grid power and costs by more than 80%.

The HP Net-Zero Energy Data Center architecture integrates energy and cooling supply from local renewable sources imagewith the scheduling of IT workloads based on resource availability and performance requirements.

So, for example, noncritical, delay-tolerant workloads could be scheduled during daylight hours to coincide with solar energy generation, reducing reliance on non-renewable resources. As a result, organisations can lower overall data-centre costs, enabling more customers to take advantage of IT services.

Based on this research, HP aims to provide businesses and societies around the world with the potential to operate data centres using local renewable resources, removing dependencies such as location, energy supply and costs.

According to Cullen Bash, interim director at HP Labs Sustainable Ecosystems Research Group, “Information technology has the power to be an equaliser across societies globally, but the cost of IT services, and by extension the cost of energy, is prohibitive and inhibits widespread adoption. The HP Net-Zero Energy Data Centre not only aims to minimise the environmental impact of computing, but also has a goal of reducing energy costs associated with data-centre operations to extend the reach of IT accessibility globally.”


I don’t think there is anything particularly innovative here. What HP Labs has done is pull together various aspects of reducing data centre energy use into one holistic whole. Perhaps the most interesting part is the demand-side management, i.e. matching the requirements of the workload against the available energy. That would be a challenge for most data centre managers who generally work on the basis that all work is critical. (For many online businesses it is).

But looking at data centre energy from an holistic perspective, as HP has done here, is important and does seem to have been overlooked in the last year or two. The focus now seems to switch between different methods of reducing power – free cooling has received most attention recently. But the use of local renewable energy or even using the waste data centre heat for other purposes, such as domestic heating or industrial use, can also reduce emissions and save costs.

There are a lot more options available if data centre managers can look internally - to better manage workloads - and also outside the data centre walls for opportunities to reduce or regain power costs.

© The Green IT Review

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