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SNIA Tackles Green Hype in Storage

As enterprises pay more attention to energy usage in the data center, storage vendors are touting their "green" credentials and making claims that their systems are more energy efficient than those of competitors. But buyers of storage systems have a hard time comparing those claims since there are few concrete standards for measuring and comparing energy usage for complicated technologies like storage. The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) , which has been working to improve energy efficiency in storage and promote conservation, this week introduced its Green Storage Power Measurement Specifications, the latest step in its effort to level the playing field when it comes to green claims.

The trade group, which includes most major storage vendors, issued for public review and comment two new elements of its Green Storage Initiative. They include a taxonomy that places various storage technologies and systems in categories to permit comparisons between systems and a method for measuring the amount of power a system consumes when idle. More than 25 vendors were involved in developing the taxonomy and idle power measurement approach.

SNIA is devoting considerable effort to developing industry-wide specifications for measuring and comparing energy usage of storage systems because of the increasing attention being paid to the amount of electricity that goes into powering and cooling data centers and IT systems in general. Industry analysts estimate that storage systems use 13 percent of the energy consumed in a typical data center, and that the percentage used by storage could grow as companies continue to buy and deploy more capacity.

"And every watt you burn [to power systems] you burn another watt in cooling," says Al Thomason, vice chairman of SNIA's Green Storage Initiative and a storage portfolio manager at IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM). "I've seen some estimates that storage consumes up to 30 percent of the power in a data center."

The SNIA taxonomy groups storage technologies and systems into five main segments, ranging from small office, home office, and consumer storage systems all the way up to enterprise mainframe systems. It sets criteria for what kinds of devices and systems fit into each category, making distinctions among online, near-online storage, removable media libraries, virtual media libraries, infrastructure appliances, and infrastructure interconnect systems.

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