Fade to black: Software shuts down servers automatically to conserve electricity

I know some IT managers are extremely skeptical of products or software that promise to cut power to servers or storage that's idle. But power management or demand response is becoming a much more common conversation among data center professional, one that developer Cassatt hopes to influence.

I know some IT managers are extremely skeptical of products or software that promise to cut power to servers or storage that's idle. But power management or demand response is becoming a much more common conversation among data center professional, one that developer Cassatt hopes to influence.

The company's Active Response product, which just got a major update to version 5.1 this week, provides a new feature that lets managers define when a predictable (or unpredictable) power usage situation will trigger a shutdown of the infrastructure involved. Let me repeat that: The manager defines what is or is not an acceptable situation. So, for example, servers typically used for application or code testing, which sit idle a lot of the time, could be scheduled to power up only when necessary and then power down again when a test is done. Servers that become idle for a certain period of time could likewise be directed to shut off.

Here's another big plus to this edition of the software: It includes an interface that means it can be integrated with other widely used infrastructure management tools, including F5 load balancers and Hewlett-Packard's OpenView systems software.

Here's the list of server power controllers with which Cassat Active Response 5.1 is compatible: - Sun Advanced Lights Out Manager (ALOM) and Integrated Lights Out Manager (ILOM) - Dell ERA and DRAC - HP iLO - IBM BCMM - Power distribution units from Server Technology and Western Telematic, APC, DualComm and Baytech

The technology works with Solaris SPARC, Red Hat Linuz, Novell SuSE Linux and Windows. Support networking technology includes the Cisco 3000 Series, Extreme Summit 400, Dell PowerConnect and Nortel 5000 series.

Cassatt figures that using its software could help a data center cut power usage by 30 percent simply by defining a set schedule for servers to be active or inactive. Adding demand-based policies that respond to actual usage patterns could save up to another 20 percent, according to the company.

The standard edition of the software starts at $200 per managed machine.