Sunday, June 28, 2009

Is NetApp missing a golden green opportunity?

NetApp’s customer facing green strategy or lack thereof was one of my few disappointments at the recent NetApp analyst day. At the end of the sessions I was left with the sense that this was not on their radar and that I have some difficulty in accepting.

However, Green IT was not totally ignored. Dave Robbins, CTO, IT Infrastructure, gave an excellent overview of NetApp Green IT activities from an IT practitioner’s perspective and his efforts and those of his team are to be applauded.

But what about NetApp’s customer facing green strategy? If there is one it is not obvious. In the product presentations there was no mention of how NetApp is driving environmental and energy efficiency even when discussing data reduction technologies. Although I am a green advocate I am also the first to admit that green per se does not necessarily win business but energy costs, space efficiencies, ewaste management etc are increasing becoming relevant even for the pragmatist whose sole worry is operational costs. Even without the pending legislation Washington has in store for us a strong, well articulated green strategy is a valuable sales asset and its importance will continue to increase with the proliferation of worldwide environmental legislation. EMC, Dell, HP and IBM have all received and understand this message.

Let’s look at what Dave’s team has accomplished.

By implementing VMware they reduced from 4600, x86 based clients to 230 saving $1.3M in power and cooling and reduced the number of racks needed by 182. Admittedly not driven by NetApp technology, but a heck of a story.

How about their Oracle environment? They consolidated midrange servers to logically partitioned enterprise class servers which added 300% capacity to production servers and increased the development landscape by 143%. Replication time was also shortened by 2400% (from 1-2 days to 1hr) and the need to for a 74% increase in floor space was avoided as was the need for 81% additional power which saved an additional draw on the power grid of 236kW. Again not a directly related to NetApp technology but another great story and a great illustration of what a bit of planning can do.

So what was achieved as a direct result of NetApp technology? Primarily a consolidation/virtualization strategy that reduced storage systems from 50 to 10. This freed up 19.5 racks in the data center and reduced power consumption by 41,184KWh/mth which reduced energy consumption by 32%. Air conditioning was reduced by 94 tons which translates to eliminating approximately 1M lbs of CO2 annually and as a bonus they also increased storage utilization by 60%.

For the life of me I do not understand why NetApp are not exploiting the great work being done by Robbins and crew particularly as they are showcasing NetApp technology. In today’s popular parlance they are eating there own dog food. The NetApp folks have established solid green credentials in the industry, they were involved with the Data Center Energy Forecast Report sponsored by Accenture, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, DOE and many others, in short they have a thought leadership position in Green IT. It would be a shame to let that golden opportunity go to waste.

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