Innovations in green IT

Regional Green IT vendors discuss their latest product innovations in the Green IT sphere.

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Innovations in green IT
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By  Georgina Enzer Published  September 11, 2013

Regional Green IT vendors discuss their latest product innovations in the Green IT sphere.

IBM: Shifting focus to IT utilisation

Shifting the focus from wasted power to maximising utilisation rates so that energy is not squandered in the first place, IBM is one of the vendors leading the charge to combine IT and business innovation. Much of the innovation centres on achieving the optimum Power Utilisation Efficiency (PUE) score of its servers. But generally, the industry giant also makes a strong case for using analytics software to increase the utilisation of IT infrastructure by helping companies forecast capacity, power and cooling requirements with precision, using input such as expected application growth and IT strategy.

“Companies struggling with inefficient IT have a significant advantage in our systems, which are designed out of necessity for industry-leading IT utilisation and power efficiency as design goals,” says Bashar Kilani, territory executive, Gulf and Levant, at IBM.

“For example, our high-performance System z and POWER servers are much more efficient than competitive systems, running at CPU utilisation rates nearing 75%, while competitive systems often run at well less than 50%. IBM was among the first IT companies to identify the trend of rising power costs due to under-utilised data centres, largely from the unmitigated spread in the last decade of inefficient distributed systems based on X86 architecture.”

In the future, IBM foresees the emergence of a new era of computing, the era of cognitive systems,  designed to be much more powerful and energy efficient than today’s computers that power corporate data centres, according to Kilani.

Seagate: Solid state innovation

Seagate has a similar history of innovations, according to senior director of cloud initiatives, Joe Fagan, and uses many techniques to reduce power consumption of storage solutions.

“Looking at hard drives as one example, this can involve features like spinning drives slower, offering advanced power-management features to switch off motors and electronics in idle periods, promoting the use of smaller form-factor drives, and promoting SSD and hybrid SSD in the correct environments,” he says.

“Our Constellation CS drives, for instance, are extremely energy-efficient at under 8w, which averages 29% less than competing hard drives. This also means designing devices that operate in the most aggressive environments – as seen in warm climates like the Middle East — where drives must be able to work reliably in higher temperatures, and where cooling can be a very expensive luxury.”

Brocade: Efficiency by design

No vendor worth its salt will miss the opportunity to hail the consistency of its own efforts in pursuing an innovative green development strategy. And for most leading players, the ideal of a comprehensive, end-to-end green product portfolio has long since become a reality.

Sufian Dweik, regional director, MEMA, at Brocade Communications, said that there is no single solution for optimising ICT efficiency.

“Green networking is part of our DNA and philosophy, and an integral part of all our products and solutions,” he states. “Brocade provides products that increase productivity and reduce energy consumption. We work hard to encompass all elements of efficiency, including energy, planning, processes, manageability, scalability and more.”

Brocade has focused its efforts on Software Defined Networking, the powerful new network paradigm designed to address the issues of ever-increasing demand for speed, scalability and resilience. It is also working with the Storage Network Industry Association to solve specific energy issues, including the carbon impact of the complex of servers, switches, directors, storage arrays and tape subsystems that form data centre storage networks.

“Brocade designs energy efficiency into each of its products,” says Dweik. “For example, in blade server environments, our blade SAN switches and Access Gateway solutions enable integrated SAN connectivity without requiring a separate switch chassis, power supplies and cooling fans. Sharing the power and cooling resources of the blade switch chassis reduces overall energy costs and heat dissipation requirements.”

HUAWEI: Green influence benefits

ICT applications are playing an active role in driving the evolution of the power industry across the Middle East, according to Pan En, regional vice president of Huawei.

More widely, innovation is striking at the heart of the data centre as enterprises get creative in their efforts to build end-to-end networks that integrate services, network resources and IT resources.

“In later 2012, for example, we announced our Universal Distributed Storage system,” said Pan En. “This product underscores the concept of infinite storage and definitive security, adopting an innovative storage architecture to present customers with a highly reliable, scalable and cost-efficient mass storage solution. The rapid growth of resources like wider network bandwidth, smart terminals and 4G LTE telecom services have created a synergy accelerating worldwide ‘informatisation’. As information-bearing platforms, Internet Data Centres are major energy consumers on the network.”

Dell: Fresh air cooling

Dell has developed hardware for data centres called Fresh Air, which was driven by companies like eBay and Bing.

“They told us that their data centres cost them millions of dollars to run at 18 degrees Celsius, extremely cold to make sure that the servers continue running, but it costs a tonne of money, especially in the UAE where temperatures reach up to 50C in the summer outside. If you run your air conditioning at 18C for one month then the next month put it at 25C, you save a huge amount of money,” says Basil Ayass, marketing director at Dell Middle East.

Fresh Air certified servers can be run at 35C, according to Dell, this will save regional enterprises huge amounts of money on cooling.

“We sell these Fresh Air servers in the UAE and telling our customers that they no longer need to cool their data centres to such a low level, that they can raise it by a few degrees saves them a lot. With Fresh Air we have a provision to go for 10% of the time to 40C and 1% of the time up to 45C,” says Ayass.

Dell has also introduced Fresh Air certified storage, Fresh Air certified network switches, and Fresh Air certified PDUS.

“Today a customer that is building a data centre, specifically, if it is a new build, they can build a Fresh Air data centre, We have all the required components, storage, server, network power distribution and the rack, all is Fresh Air certified so you can build a data centre that can run at 25C up to 35C, which reduces energy costs,” explains Ayass.

According to Dell, for around 50 servers the savings would be around $300,000 to $350,000 a year in cooling costs. As a percentage, that is 25% to 35% power savings from cooling.

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