Storage system managers are concerned about more than just the volume of data that these systems hold and the ease of managing these devices. Increasingly, their focus is turning to how much energy these products chew up. In response, IBM enhanced its storage system and server energy management software and expanded the reach of its Tivoli management system from these devices to other products, such as heating and air conditioning units.
Green computing is becoming a pressing issue for small and medium businesses. In some cases, energy costs account for 10 percent to 15 percent of a companys data center expenses, said Stuart McIrvine, director of market management, emerging markets at IBM.
These costs have been rising dramatically: The cost of a barrel of oil has exceeded $120 and has the potential to hit $200. In some cases, utilities are taking punitive action in order to curtail energy use. They are establishing maximum thresholds for customers energy usage. If a company exceeds that mark, it is charged at a premium rate for one, and even two months.
Aware of the new challenges, IBM launched Project Big Green in May 2007 and committed to spending $1 billion per year to develop technologies that improve energy efficiency in the data center. One area on which the company has focused is providing more insight into the energy use of its own products, such as its storage systems and servers.
IBM has an expanding and improving portfolio of tools to help here: Maximo Facility Management, Active Energy Manager, and Lotus ActiveInsight 6.1, which can be integrated with Business Intelligence solutions for real-time energy dashboards. With these tools, a company can determine how much energy its storage systems and servers are using and lower the available power during non-peak times.