Green Grid to deliver more studies by the year’s end

Instead of delivering on its data centre power-efficiency work, the Green Grid has announced nine more studies and has committed to delivering them by the end of the year. The job of producing usable power-efficiency metrics is proving difficult.

The Green Grid is a nonprofit organization looking at data centre power and efficiency. It wants to lower the overall consumption of power in data centres worldwide and needs to provide valid metrics for this. The group was formed by AMD, APC, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Rackable Systems, SprayCool, Sun Microsystems and VMware.

Membership has grown fast, with more than 80 current members. The Pacific Gas and Electric Company are the latest addition, and the first utility company to join. It intends to use The Green Grid’s efficiency standards to expand its financial incentive programs for customers who purchase premium efficiency servers, data storage devices, routers, and other computing equipment.

The Green Grid has three papers on its Web site: The Green Grid Opportunity, Guidelines for Efficient Data Centers; and one on data centre efficiency metrics. This week it provided a Webcast in which it outlined its current activities and road map.

It divided its work into three areas: data collection; data assessment; and technology proposals. In the data collection area it will deliver an update on data center power efficiency metrics and a standards and metrics inventory. Both will arrive in the third quarter of this year (Q3 ’07). It will also produce a study of how to actually collect power efficiency data in Q4 ’07.

Under the data assessment banner it will produce four publications: a baseline market study of data centre efficiency; a study of operational best practices; and a database for data centre performance. It will also produce a Return on Investment (ROI) case for a green data center. The market study will be available in Q3 ’07 with the other three arriving in Q4.

The technology proposals will be kicked off by a report into power distribution options in Q3 ’07, such as moving to direct current power supply, followed by a cooling options study and an initial technology road map for the next five years, both in Q4. For the power distribution work it will examine a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study on DC power.

Lawrence Lamers, Green Grid director, pointed out an obvious fact: “Despite the fact that power consumption is one of the most important issues facing IT today, there is a lack of guidelines and resources available for those looking to drive a change.”

“The Green Grid is focused on building the foundation and launching the key technology deliverables required to improve data center energy efficiency — both for existing data centers and for the design and operation of future ones.”

The Green Grid knows there is no simple silver bullet for data center power efficiency problems. It cannot develop a rip-and-replace strategy for data centres: existing ones have to be made capable of operating more efficiently. To achieve this it has to work with end-users and not just be a talking shop for equipment vendors.