Wednesday, March 18, 2009

How Cal State University East Bay exploited virtualization to solved a power shortage problem.

As noted a couple of day’s ago the Wikibon Team held their 57th peer incite with Rich Avila the Director of Server and Network Operations discussing the story of how California State University, East Bay (CSUEB) avoided catastrophe. As colorfully articulated by David Vellante the session moderator, John Charles, the CIO of CSUEB and Rich Avila were looking down the barrel of a gun in late 2007. The total amount of power being used in the data center was 67kVA and the maximum available from the plant was 75kVA. Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) had informed them that no more power could be delivered. They would be out of power in less than six months. A new data center was planned, but would not be available for two years.

The team realized they had to take action quickly. Rich Avila conducted a survey and found the following:

CSUEB’s 250+ server infrastructure was running at less than 6% utilization;
DAS and SAN storage was utilized at between 10-15%;
There was very little sharing across servers. When a server ran out of storage the answer was to buy more storage or sometimes more servers;
One half of CSUEB’s server equipment was more than five years old.
At the time, Jonathan Taylor, an environmental studies graduate student, and a systems engineer in the data center, was doing some research for a paper. Jonathan presented the paper to Charles and recommended implementing storage and server virtualization. Charles, the CIO said ‘do it.’.

David Vellante and the Wikibon team have pulled together a number of short but informative briefs to illustrate how CSUEB dodged the bullet. These briefs can be found on the Wikibon home page. Click here and enjoy the read.