Users Grasp Green Storage

IT managers are tackling their power problems but want more help from EMC

May 21, 2008

3 Min Read
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LAS VEGAS -- Users at EMC World welcomed the vendors decision to add "spin-down" disks to its DL 4000 disk library, but they are urging the vendor to quickly add the energy-saving technology to its other disk systems.

“The fact that it can spin down and use less power at off-peak times is really important,” said Brian Comp, associate vice president of technology services at Louisville, Ky.-based Norton Healthcare , which stores about 100 Tbytes of data on two DL 4000s. “One of our initiatives is to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Although users gave a positive response to the launch of spin-down disks, there were also calls for EMC to bulk up this strategy and offer the technology on other machines.

“They should extend it -- when you start looking at a Clariion with 240 drives, that’s a lot of spindles,” said Stuart Hamling, information systems manager at the Cabinet for Workforce Development, a state government agency in Frankfort, Ky. “It would be nice to see something in the next six months or so.”

The exec explained that, although he does not currently use a DL 4000, his organization uses around a thousand disks split across two Clariions, a Celerra system, and Clariion Disk Libraries (CDLs).“When you start getting a high spindle count [like that], if you can spin them down when they are not being utilized, that would have an impact,” he said.

An IT manager from a Midwestern defense company, who asked not to be named, agreed that he would also like to see EMC do more with spin-down disk technology.

”We run a lot of storage on Clariions, so we would like to see it on that,” he said. “We have a tendency to buy a lot of drives for future use, so if they’re always up and running, you’re using energy and air conditioning.”

EMC is still playing its spin-down disk plans close to its chest, despite users’ appeals for broader support.

“What we can say is that the software that is used for spin-down on the disk library will be leveraged by other platforms like Clariion,” said Barry Ader, senior director of storage platforms marketing at EMC. “[But] we can’t give any time-frames right now.”The exec explained that the software upgrade that the spins down disks has its roots in Clariion firmware, although the vendor initially targeted the technology at less frequently accessed drives on the DL 4000 backup system.

Energy-efficient disk technologies were not the only green storage initiatives on the agenda in Sin City this week. Users, for example, were keen to discuss their broader energy challenges, describing, in many cases, the need to overhaul entire infrastructures.

“We have just spent $3 million to upgrade power in our data center,” said John Cornish, a SAN architect at Des Moines, Iowa-based insurance firm Employers’ Mutual. “We went through and we did an analysis of what our current requirements are, and what all the equipment that we buy in the next two years will need.”

Other users had similar stories, and many described the challenges of hardware consolidation and provisioning power for their data centers.

“We’re building a new data center, so we’re doing a lot of studies to see how we can use VMware and clustering technologies to reduce our server count,” said Norton Healthcare’s Comp. “We’re also looking at where we’re using power, and how we can reduce it.”To achieve this goal, the healthcare firm has deployed sophisticated monitoring technologies, such as SiteScan software from data center specialist Liebert, which lets users monitor their power systems, air handlers, and room temperatures.

The exec even called on EMC to provide more information on what it does with the storage systems customers return when they reach the end of their life.

“We just had a large Symmetrix box that EMC took back,” he said. “We would like to know about what they do to recycle it.”

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