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Your Storage Arrays May Be Dangerous

Are your storage arrays really agents of mass destruction? On Earth Day, it's worth a thought.

Consider the following statistics from the EPA: Servers and data centers consumed 61 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of power in 2006, about 1.5 percent of all electricity consumed in the U.S. At present rates, which show data center and server energy consumption doubling every five years, that figure could rise to 100 billion kWh consumed by servers and data centers in 2011.

Using common metrics (1.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emitted per kWh), at 100 billion kWh, data centers would be issuing approximately 150 billion pounds of carbon dioxide into the environment annually.

Storage equipment could play a major role in this awful scenario: The EPA reported in August 2007 that storage devices accounted for just 5 percent of the total data center electricity used in 2006. But storage gear was estimated to have the highest compound annual growth rate in electricity use from 2000 through 2006 -- 20 percent, compared to the overall CAGR of 14 for electrical use by all data center end-components in the same period.

The EPA also estimated that enterprise storage devices based on hard disk drives accounted for 3.22 billion kWh of energy used in 2006 -- nearly a 200 percent increase over 2000's estimated total.

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