Operating Systems

IT organizations and the companies they serve are increasingly concerned about energy costs and environmental impact. Electricity use by data centers worldwide doubled from 2000 to 2005, representing an aggregate annual growth rate of 16.7 percent per year, according to a report titled “Worldwide Electricity Used in Data Centers” by Jonathan G. Koomey. This means IT decision-makers must start getting serious about bringing energy consumption under reasonable control.

Meanwhile, the mainframe’s unique attributes are making it more important than ever for today’s information-driven enterprises. Approximately 70 percent of organizations and governments are running critical applications on mainframes, according to a report from Butler Group titled “The King Is Dead—Long Live the Mainframe.”

While the mainframe is inherently a highly cost-effective computing platform, expanding DASD and tape storage requirements can drive 10 percent or more of a data center’s overall increases in energy consumption. Storage managers can therefore play a significant role in making IT greener. In doing so, they will face various challenges such as deciding how much of their constrained budgets they should allocate to acquiring new, energy-efficient green storage devices—or determining whether there are less costly ways to support green IT initiatives using existing tools and resources.

New Equipment vs. Better Practices

In his 2008 report, “Storage Panorama,” Fred Moore (president of Boulder, CO-based consulting firm Horison Information Strategies) predicted that storage vendors will push energy-friendly technology solutions more heavily in the coming years. However, these solutions typically have considerable acquisition costs and don’t address the issue of energy consumption by existing equipment. It’s also unclear that acquiring new hardware is the best thing to do in a down economy, especially given that green storage technology will likely become even more energy-efficient and prices will probably fall considerably in just a few years.

A less costly approach may be to make better use of existing Storage Resource Management (SRM) capabilities. With SRM, storage managers can effectively classify storage, more intelligently migrate and archive data sets, and even move less frequently used files to tape media that doesn’t require energy on an ongoing basis. SRM supports green IT initiatives by providing storage managers with greater visibility into their current storage environments, so they can lower energy consumption by improving utilization.

SRM makes it easy for technicians to pinpoint available storage space and automate efficient restructuring of mainframe storage resources. Besides cutting energy consumption, this approach also reduces capital infrastructure costs and ongoing storage ownership burdens.

Because SRM is implemented on the host system, it doesn’t require the purchase of additional hardware. In fact, in addition to deferring the acquisition of expensive new hardware, SRM can actually allow for the removal of unneeded hardware already in place.  

Driving Down Energy Costs With SRM

Here are some key points storage managers should consider when applying SRM to support green IT initiatives:

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