Your Storage Arrays May Be Dangerous

It's vital for data centers to rethink the environmental impact of storage gear

April 22, 2008

2 Min Read
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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.Little wonder that the agency called for "storage virtualization, data deduplication, storage tiering, and movement of archival data to storage devices that can be powered down when not in use" as strategies for avoiding environmental damage if not disaster.

In light of all this, the move to greater power efficiency in storage kit takes on more urgency. Projects like HDS's Japanese data center and IBM's Project Big Green will hopefully become more widespread. The work of the Green Grid, which yesterday announced memorandums of understanding with the EPA and the SNIA, will be more closely watched. Storage managers will likely look harder at energy-saving suggestions from various industry sources.

Maybe it's even time to stop poking fun at various companies' attempts at marketing greenery. At least the message is a wholesome one.

Then again, maybe it's time to step up exposure of the "greenwashing" that substitutes marketspeak for real action.

What about you? Are you on board the green storage wagon? We'd like to reissue our invitation to tell us all about it. And don't forget to take our latest poll on the topic.Maybe next year's Earth Day will bring news of real progress.Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • The Green Grid

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • Hitachi Ltd. (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA)

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

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