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Study: Data Center Power Usage

Data centers use a lot of power. As any data center manager can tell you, power usage is a big concern. There are a number of reasons for this, not the least of which is the operational costs involved in giving juice to a data center. Being able to give your data center the right amount of power when it needs it is key to operating at the highest possible level of efficiency.

A new study by Duke University and Microsoft takes a look at some of the data center power issues, and sets up some basic ideas about how data centers can make the most of the power landscape in their data centers.  The purpose is to address some of the power usage problems facing the data center, and find new and innovative power management models.

An outdated model

Today, data centers manage their power on a model based on physical machines. They use a variety of tools to over-subscribe their power distribution, which means they provision less power than what an application could theoretically use. This makes sense in a physical server world, where an application typically isn’t going to hit a peak load.

When it comes to virtual servers, however, things are very different. It’s hard to cap the power on a virtual machine, or to differentiate between the various applications when it comes to power.

Becoming application-aware

To make progress in this area, power management and usage are going to have to become application-aware. Power distribution systems need to be able to look down into the virtual machine layer and respond accordingly.

The project has also designed a new power consumption model. The model is a “virtualized power shifting” (VPS) system. It budgets the use of power with application-aware ideas in mind. It is then able to dynamically move power between the various components involved, creating a much more efficient use of power, while maximizing the opportunity for peak performance.

The big difference between a VPS system and today’s power systems is that it’s more granular. There’s no single control knob, but rather several scaling power knobs that let power be used in the most efficient way possible

While the technology is still a work in progress, the possibilities going forward are significant.

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Unitiv, Inc., is a professional provider of enterprise IT solutions. Unitiv delivers its services from its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, and its regional office in Iselin, New Jersey, USA. Unitiv provides a strategic approach to its service delivery, focusing on three core components: People, Products, and Processes. The People to advise and support customers. The Products to design and build solutions. The Processes to govern and manage post-implementation operations.