Big Blue’s Power Systems Painted Green at OCEAN Tech Conference
July 7, 2008 Dan Burger
Energy inefficiencies and their rapidly escalating costs are being swept under the rug at most companies. Not intentionally, but as part of a routine that avoids taking a hard look at reducing these substantial costs. In the data center, real energy efficiencies are leading to considerable savings. That was the message Jeff Howard, director of Power Systems offerings at IBM, shared with attendees at the annual OCEAN midrange user group technical conference last week in Irvine, California.
Where should IT managers look for energy abuse? X64 servers took a lot of the heat that Howard was dishing out. Utilization rates for X64 servers are notoriously low, typically in the 10 percent to 20 percent range. Server consolidation means energy conservation and considerable savings can be realized in companies running dozens or–oh, mercy–hundreds of under utilized servers.
This isn’t the first time a top IBM executive has proposed using the OS/400 or i5/OS platform as an intelligent way to handle server sprawl. Energy bills that are doubling or tripling every two or three years, according to Howard, may make the importance of this a little more vivid to guardians of the budget, though.
No one knows for sure, if no one looks for answers. And so how do you get to the bottom of this? Knock. Knock. Knock. That’s IBM at the door.
The problem is real. IBM didn’t make it up to sell hardware, software, and services. And, Howard didn’t come to California to tell IT managers to be ashamed of themselves for not helping to save the planet or suggest an energy-guzzling tax on wasteful IT practices. He didn’t come empty handed, either. His mission was to increase awareness and offer solutions.
IBM has been studying this energy cost issue for a while–long enough to devise a set of diagnostic services for customers. They have people skilled at mapping data centers, identifying hot spots, and ferreting out wasted efforts. Facility design, thermal analysis, and consolidation services are also some of the corners into which they will peer. IBM is working through its business partners to provide these services as well.
Howard also pointed out that IBM has software that can help. It’s called Active Energy Management software and it was introduced last year. It measures the amount of power specific systems are using and it creates a baseline for companies to know where they stand on energy use.
“It identifies the offenders before making a plan,” Howard says. “It can measure and place caps on systems so that load balancing can be done based on power consumption.”
Not only can system inefficiencies be corrected, but peak power demands potentially can be shifted away from times when utility charges are maxed out and capacities stressed, which Southern Californians have come to know as rolling blackouts.
“Energy efficiency is something we need to address in earnest,” Howard says, “something IBM has been working on 10 or 15 years. There are a lot of opportunities to address. The financial benefit will be function of the cost savings through consolidation, the manageability and flexibility improvements, and the operational savings of using less energy.”
The estimated attendance at the technical conference was 200, according to OCEAN president Bob Langieri. OCEAN is the largest System i, iSeries, and AS/400 user group on the west coast and one of the largest in the United States.