There are many facets of being green—from reducing carbon footprint and e-waste to addressing power and cooling needs to sustaining business growth while reducing costs. Other issues include supporting more data to be processed and stored for longer periods of time while maintaining and enhancing service delivery complying with existing and emerging regulations or mandates.

In addition, there are many different approaches you can take to address the surrounding issues and constraints of being green. For example, you can:

Assess, measure, and analyze: Determine what resources are available and how they’re being used to deliver a given level of service; this will help you gauge the impact or benefit of making changes. Metrics and measurements should be on a macro level as well as have visibility to the component resource level. This will help you make informed decisions with regard to configuration or technology changes. If not already in place, a performance and capacity planning program should tie together server, storage, I/O, networking hardware, and software needs along with facility requirements to support business objectives.

Reduce data footprint impact: As more data is generated, and more copies are made and stored for longer periods of time, the result is an expanding data footprint. This has a tremendous impact on storage hardware along with associated software tools and management costs, including business continuance and disaster recovery. Short of deleting all data, a sound data management strategy includes archiving structured (database), semi-structured (email), and unstructured (file) data as well as archiving beyond regulatory compliance requirements.

Other steps to reduce data footprint impact include determining what data is being used and when, so you can decide what should be archived or deleted as well as what data is active/inactive and online/offline and can be compressed. In addition to compression and consolidation, policy-based data de-duplication with an eye on effective data rates in addition to data reduction ratios for backup and archive is another technique to include as part of a data footprint reduction strategy. Keep networks on a local and wide area basis in perspective, leveraging Wide Area File and Data Services (WAFS and WADS) as well as Data Replication Optimization (DRO) or other bandwidth and protocol optimization techniques.

Upgrade and replace older technology: While there is a cost in terms of money and people time to upgrade and replace older, slower, less energy-efficient technologies, there can be financial benefits. These include maintenance costs savings, improved performance to boost energy efficiency, increased storage capacity in the same or smaller footprint—all of which have operating cost benefits. In addition, there may be rebates or other financial incentives available from manufacturers, energy utilities or other agencies.

Balance energy avoidance with energy efficiency: Storage efficiency is often misunderstood to mean only using high-capacity disk drives combined with consolidation to boost the ratio of capacity to energy used or for powering disk drives. The reality is that for different types of applications and data usage, there are different metrics for determining efficiency. This means that for active, performance-sensitive applications data, a current generation 15.5K RPM Fibre Channel or SAS high-performance, medium-to-large capacity disk drive will be more energy efficient when comparing useful work done than a slower, large capacity disk drive.

RAM or FLASH-based Solid State Disk (SSD) devices will be more energy efficient for ultra-high I/O activity when measured on an IOPS per-watt basis than traditional spinning hard disk drives. For inactive data, a large capacity disk drive will be more energy efficient on a capacity perwatt, per-configuration basis than a performance-oriented storage device. Tape for inactive and archive data remains one of the most economical and efficient means of storing large amounts of data.

Bottom line: Use common sense and best practices, including applicable RAID levels, to balance Performance, Availability, Capacity and Energy (PACE) to a given service level and cost requirement. Leverage new technologies with time-tested processes and procedures to address pertinent green economic, energy, and environmentally efficient topics.