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Virtualisation: The key to a green datacentre?

Virtualisation is the key technology for creating less power-hungry datacentres, according to numerous speakers at the Energy Logic symposium in Sydney.
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Written by Alex Serpo on

Virtualisation is the key technology for creating less power-hungry datacentres, according to numerous speakers at the Energy Logic symposium in Sydney.

"Global electricity prices increased 56 per cent between 2002 and 2006," which has generated the desire to create more efficient datacentres, said Chris Mandahl, director of domestic sales at Emerson Network Power.

However, before rushing to virtualise every server, VMWare's Ed Lenta advised administrators to ensure the move would not disrupt their mission-critical systems.

"There is no point going from sprawl to consolidated — from many to few — unless the services we can offer on virtualised infrastructure are as good or better than those offered on sprawled infrastructure," said Lenta.

Moving from direct attached storage to tiered SAN (storage attached network) was highlighted by Lenta as offering the potential for huge power savings.

Brad Engstrom, a consulting engineer at Cisco, said virtualisation was not restricted to the servers — it could also be implemented at the network layer. Engstrom said that in virtualised networks, "the network identity moves with the virtual server in the event of a failure ... green IT is about agility."

When looking to consolidate datacentre equipment, Emerson's Mandahl said it was important to consider the "cascade effect", where one watt of power saved at the server level translated to almost three times as much, 2.84 watts, at the infrastructure level. "Energy saving begins at the server," he said.

(Credit: Emerson)

Mandahl said that if implemented alone, virtualisation would reduce datacentre power consumption by 14 per cent.

The Federal government recently made it mandatory for large enterprises to report their carbon emissions, and in this context Lenta said virtualisation would be important in reducing carbon emissions. "We are not a particularly sophisticated organisation at VMWare ... the best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to pull servers out of your datacentre."

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