Power-smart disk systems

Disk drive systems use more power than just about any other data center gear, but storage vendors are addressing this problem with a variety of technologies.

By Matt Perkins

Last fall, Adaptec Inc. kicked off its Green Power Initiative by introducing a new capability for many of its RAID controllers called Intelligent Power Management. The product was made available with the company's Series 5 and Series 2 Unified Serial RAID controllers, and was designed to help configure storage systems to reduce power consumption by up to 70% without forfeiting performance.

"What we decided to do was to address the whole storage package," said Suresh Panikar, director of worldwide marketing at Adaptec. "Our initiative said that from now on our products will have a flavor of power management." Storage administrators can configure banks of drives to operate at different power levels at different times, and set the drives to spin up and down according to usage patterns.

Adaptec is one of several storage providers eyeing green initiatives in the data center. Vendors such as Enhance Technology Inc., greenBytes Inc. and LSI Corp. are also trying to make their marks on the green storage map, as have larger vendors like Dell Inc., EMC Corp. and NetApp. Most vendor initiatives so far involve adding energy-efficient enhancements rather than reengineering products.

"We're making some refinements to our product lines in light of the need for

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reduced power, cooling, space and the whole greening of the data center," said Larry Freeman, NetApp's senior marketing manager of storage efficiency. "Thin provisioning is key in power consumption." In addition to thin provisioning, NetApp software features like data deduplication and snapshots are designed to save capacity in VMware environments. In October 2008, the company said its multiprotocol arrays were 50% more space-efficient than other systems supporting VMware. NetApp even pledged to make up the difference for free to users who didn't see an improvement.

This was first published in April 2009

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