Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Standards will improve energy conservation efforts.

Energy conservation is all about saving energy and within data centers storage is one of the biggest energy hogs that are driving ever increasing energy costs. So how do you know which storage solution is really the most energy efficient? How do you penetrate the fog of greenwash and get usable, competitive energy consumption numbers? The answer is standards and the one group that is driving standards for storage network products is the Green Storage Initiative (GSI) Team within the Storage Network Industry Association, SNIA[1].

Their draft publication the “SNIA Green Storage Power Measurement, Technical Specification” is the latest attempt to establish a standardized, device level methodology that enables accurate and comparable measurements of the power consumption of commercial storage systems. This objective, metric-based approach should enable the user community to demand that vendor supply energy consumption data that can be used to contrast competitive solutions and effectively eradicate or at least minimize vendor market speak. Note this is still a draft document but it is heading in the right direction.

The GSI group have developed frameworks for six broad taxonomy categories.
Online; Near-Online; Removable Media; VTL; Infrastructure Appliance and Infrastructure Interconnect Elements. Within these frameworks are the guidelines for measurements and data collection including the metrics and most importantly how to audit, verify and publish the measurements.


The metrics proposed by GSI are designed to evaluate the energy impact of storage network products. The initial metrics focus on idle power measurements, a future intent is to include active devices.

Average Idle Power (P) = sum of the sample power measurement (W) / number of sample measurements (N)

SNIA Idle Power Metric = Capacity of the storage unit/ Average Idle Power

While this may be a basic metric it is in a standardized format and will be useful for competitive comparisons.

While this may be a basic metric it is a standardized format and should be useful when comparing competitive storage solutions. As a tool for storage buyers the usefulness of the tool will increase significantly as it matures to include active devices.

Note; while marketers will no doubt try to exploit the comparisons the primary beneficiary of this standard is the end user. It is a basic metric but in a standardized format and will be useful when comparing competitive storage solutions.

It is up to the end user community to press vendor community to implement this standard and on SNIA to take the steps necessary to make this standard and comparative vendor results readily accessible. Otherwise it will have no practical value.
[1] SNIA Green Storage Power Measurement Specification Draft 0.0.18


Anonymous said...

Calculating the power/cooling costs even with rudimentary standards is still going to be difficult. How many hours a day is said device idle?! How many hours a day is said device 'active' What level of activity (50% - 60% - 80&!?) What is the local commercial power costs? Is the device fully populated? Where is it located in the data center?

BillM said...

Your comments are valid but I did underline in my post that this initial SNIA standard is for idle power only. Agreed it is limited but it is a start.
I also mentioned that SNIA does intend to extend this standard to include active situations but that it is a future effort.
Configuration and power costs are readily available and there are a number of vendor power calculators available that use this information to estimate energy usage of a particular solution.
What is missing and what SNIA is attempting to provide is a standard method of measuring power consumption which the end user could use to compare competitive solutions and neutralize marketspeak.