Tuesday, September 8, 2009

VMWorld delivers a pragmatic illustration of virtualizations powerful impact on green data center strategies.

Three fully functional virtualized data centers were assembled to support all the booth, keynote and lab activities at VMWorld with EMC, NetApp, HP, IBM, Cisco, Chip PC, MDS, and XSIGO contributing equipment and support.

To highlight the significance of virtualization as a primary component of a green data center strategy the VMware team presenting an interesting comparative analysis that looked pragmatically at the logistical differences between physical vs virtualized environments.

VMWorld was supported by a total of 37,248 VM hosted on 776 physical servers. There was 37TB of total memory and 348TB of total data center storage. The significance of the data center power consumption of 540 kWhr is appreciated when it is understood that if 37,248 physical servers were actually used the total power consumption would dramatically increase to approximately 25MWhr’s. Using these power consumption numbers and a $0.10/kWhr energy cost, virtualization dropped the hourly utility bill for the VMWorld data centers from $2500 to $54!

Reduced power costs were not the only operational savings. It was calculated that 2483 equipment racks would be needed to support a 37,248 server implementation but when virtualized this number shrinks to 28, radically dropping the floor space requirement from 154, 000 sq ft to 1700 sq ft.

Admittedly this was a bit of an artificial environment but the claim was that they were fully functional data centers and the numbers presented by the VMware team, accepted at face value, were impressive. The objective of this post is not to argue the detail of the numerical specifics but highlight the potential of virtualization as an enabler of greening the data center. Virtualization does not come for free and has its own unique set of issues and complexities, not the least being the management of what is characterized as VM sprawl. However, the numbers presented serve very well to illustrate the power of virtualization as a cornerstone of a data center efficiency strategy.

Perhaps this is why VMware currently counts 970 of the Fortune 1000 as customers.