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Blue in the face about green: Editorial

Blue in the face about green

I feel like throwing the window open and shouting "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" Sure, I'd be swiping Peter Finch's line from the 1976 movie Network, but despite my lack of originality, it would sum up how I feel about the issue of power consumption related to IT gear. You know, the "green" thing.

Finch melts down in that classic flick, and while I haven't quite reached that precipice yet, I'm beginning to wonder if systems vendors, including the usual storage suspects, are just a bit off their collective rockers. Despite the rising cost of power and an increasing level of awareness about global warming and energy consumption, it seems that many of these vendors are content to pitch platitudes to storage managers looking to save a dime and maybe even find a real eco-friendly solution.

I've sounded off before regarding the number of "green" consortiums popping up over the last year or so. The idea of having to join a club to do something about how much power the equipment you sell uses didn't make much sense to me. It still doesn't, but I'm not quite as bananas as the Finch character yet. As a self-described optimist, I'm still hopeful that one of the green gangs will come up with a concrete idea that addresses the issue.

So with an open mind, I sat in on The Green Grid's press conference a few weeks ago. The Grid used the occasion to spread a little greenness around before kicking off its technical forum. Two of the consortium's directors, John Tuccillo and John Pflueger, presided over the teleconference. Tuccillo is a VP at American Power Conversion (APC) Corp. and Pflueger is a technology strategist at Dell.

Messrs. Tuccillo and Pflueger recapped the mission of the group and then engaged in a little mutual back patting over the composition of the Grid. The self-congratulatory part of the pitch stretched on as they talked about a new collaborative partner--the Distributed Management Task Force--and the vendors among their ranks.

The two Grid guys outlined their efforts to date, underscored by their organization's stated mission, which includes "Developing standards, measurement methods, best practices and technologies to improve performance against the defined metrics." But much of their time was spent extolling the group's key output to date: a whitepaper that describes a formula that can be used to determine data center power efficiency. Of course, data center managers could probably skip the whitepaper and fancy formula and just open their electric bills.

As Tuccillo and Pflueger approached the end of their presentation, it occurred to me that not one word had been said about how IT managers could reduce the amount of power their sites use, nor how vendors can improve the power efficiency of the products they sell. So I asked: Is there a standard set of power consumption metrics you're developing for vendors that IT managers can use to accurately compare the power efficiencies of different products?

Both gentlemen fielded parts of the question, so I'm not sure who said what, but one of them replied that it was "certainly a factor." That's it? The products that actually suck the juice out of the lines and blow hot air into climate-controlled rooms are only a "factor"? And being able to easily determine which piece of equipment does it worse or better is just another "factor"? Gimme a break!

Maybe The Green Grid expects another consortium to pick up where it's apparently leaving off. But there are some storage vendors who are really doing something to curb power consumption without the aid of a fraternity. It's "show me" time, and the vendors who can will, while the rest will join clubs.

Article 16 of 19

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