Green Grid to measure power & cooling in data centres

Power and cooling might be hard to measure, but the Green Grid project wants to try.

The non-profit consortium, led by hardware vendors dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in datacenters, kicked things into gear today with a discussion on efforts to address shortcomings in datacenter design and energy efficiency.

The effort will initially focus on data collection since, for all the talk and concern about power efficiency and datacenter costs, there really are no metrics or best practices for setting up and managing a datacenter.

Jon Haas, Energy Efficiency Programs Manager for Intel, pointed out on a conference call that there is no way to measure energy efficiency in a datacenter across different vendor products.

"The solutions [that are available] are vendor specific, and there is no way to integrate them across the datacenter, and there is no clear roadmap for future datacenter design. One objective of the Green Grid is to make that outlook clearer," he said.

The first wave of releases is due from the organization in the third quarter of this year. It will release the Datacenter Standards and Metrics Inventory study, which will document existing standards and metrics for energy efficiency, identify coverage gaps and make recommendations for future development.

The group will also release the Green Grid Metrics: Describing Datacenter Power Efficiency in Q3, an update to an existing study in datacenter efficiency metrics and a study called Power Distribution Options for the Datacenter that examines the pros and cons of different datacenter power distribution configurations.

The last Q3 study will be the Datacenter Efficiency Baseline Market Study to identify key factors driving companies to take action on datacenter power consumption and the challenges in doing so.

In the fourth quarter of this year will come five more reports. The first is Operational Best Practices for optimal datacenter power use and best practices in the adoption of virtualization and consolidation technologies.

The second is a Database for Datacenter Performance, a database of characteristics and performance schema for building an optimal datacenter based on the hardware deployed, along with Operationalizing Energy-Efficiency Data Collection, a study to identify the requirements for collecting and aggregating datacenter power consumption data.

As part of this effort, the Green Grid is interviewing datacenter owners and operators to determine where their power consumption is going. This will allow the Grid to build a database of energy consumption based on category -- server, router, cooling, battery backup, etc. -- and vendor.

It will help not only the improving operations at existing centers but also in the construction of new ones, said Haas.

The last two are the Initial Technology Roadmap to provide an assessment of existing and emerging technologies for the datacenter, and a Cooling Options Study to assess the different methods of cooling in datacenters.

All of these reports are designed to develop a unified voice around datacenter efficiency issues.

John Pflueger, Technology Strategist for Dell, said that while everyone is aware of the problem, power and cooling have no standards for measure and evaluation.

"If you were to walk into a random datacenter today and ask how efficient their facility was, odds are they would look at you a little funny trying to understand what they meant about efficiency," he said on the conference call.

Data for measuring such efficiency is scarce, he points out. Everyone has huge electric bills and they know where the problem is in general, but not in specifics.

"We need to enable real time monitoring and measurement in datacenter power efficiency," Pflueger said. "As we build that database, we want to provide datacenter owners a means to assess their datacenter."

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