Being a “Star Wars” fan, I could not help but think about this famous clip from “Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope” after reading an excellent blog from Ali Marashi, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Chief Technology Officer for vXchnge.
Writing about the growing energy demands of data centers around the globe and what has been done about it so far, Ali was optimistic about the future. Yet I kept thinking about this comment: “There’s also good reason to be hopeful that unexpected technological solutions wait just over the horizon.”
Well, hope is not a strategy. And, to amplify with a much-uttered quote from “Star Wars: Rogue One”: “Rebellions are built on hope.” To fix the problems with energy demand that Ali writes about will require a “rebellious” way of thinking. As for his comment that the solution still is “over the horizon”—no, “that unexpected technological solution” is here today: It’s called Software Defined Power.
But before jumping to the big reveal, let’s review some key facts from his blog:
Data Center Power Consumption: By the Numbers
- In 2017, U.S.-based data centers alone used more than 90 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity.
- On a global scale, data centers’ power consumption amounted to about 416 terawatts, or roughly three percent of all electricity generated on the planet.
Now let’s look at three movements that have transpired to address those numbers:
- Consolidation: Organizations have increasingly abandoned private data centers and server closets in favor of colocation or on-demand services.
- Server Improvements: Specifically server virtualization and better data management practices have made it possible to utilize more of each server’s total capacity.
- Energy Efficient Components: Data center energy efficiency has improved by as much as 80 percent through the use of low-power chips and solid state drives.
The Future is Here Now: Software Defined Power
Software-Defined Power (SDP) is a software-based power control platform that uses Machine Learning and Big Data analytics to provide awareness and recommendations, including how, when and where power is being utilized to better inform the capacity planning process. Furthermore, when SDP is combined with hardware, the union automates data center operation and power management. The result increases utilization of installed capacity by removing unnecessary buffers and automating SLAs while mitigating risks and improving uptime of critical applications.
In this way, SDP avoids the capex and opex involved in the incorporation of additional infrastructure for growth. SDP also enables higher levels of power utilization with increased rack power density and the consolidation of power distribution as much as 2:1. Think of it this way: SDP does for power what VMware does for servers. Implementing SDP achieves the virtualization of power, which is the last step toward the Software-Defined Data Center.
One last note: While many people brag about power usage effectiveness (PUE), we have found many of those same people then admit 50% to 80% of their data centers’ power capacity is stranded–and it shows up every single time at the rack level. Perhaps the aforementioned “New Hope” should be switching our thinking to Rack Power Efficiency (RPE) or Rack Power Utilization (RPU)? If so, may the Force ( aka Power) be with You!