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The "green" phenomenon might just change everything. The traditional answer to storage management has been "just buy more." Managing is hard; adding more of what you know isn't. That won't work when you've run out of physical room or can't add a 40-watt lightbulb without dimming all the lights in the building. And it won't work if the next "wafer-thin" server makes the data center four degrees hotter than the sun. These events will require us to do things differently. And once you're forced to do things differently, the floodgates of possibilities open wide.

Money has historically solved all problems, but it won't anymore. It doesn't matter how rich you are if there's no more power to buy or you can't physically put one more pound of gear on the floor without creating another leaning Tower of Pisa. The good news is that the boring tools that "shine the light" are really good, usually cheap and will expose obvious things we can fix almost instantly to buy us some time. As a matter of fact, I contend that the average data center could probably save 25% to 50% of its green costs by simply changing processes, being smarter about how it uses the stuff it has and cleaning up silliness. Put that in your carbon-free emitting pipe and smoke it.

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This was first published in July 2007

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