Sunday, October 28, 2007

Kill a Watt!

As a followup to my Friday post, here are a few more details of our "kill-a-watt" project. This is a multi-year effort by the staff to "green-up" the data center and IT electrical footprint that extends to the medical center.

1. Eliminate old monitors - Conversion from cathode ray tube-based (CRT) to LCD flat panel computer monitors. The typical power consumption for a CRT is .41 kwh's per day. A year ago, we had 7,500 CRT's. Today, we have reduced the number to 2,400 having replaced the others with 15" or 17" LCD flat panel monitors. The latter consume an average of .29 kwh's per day (17") or .11 kwh's per day (15"). Based on the effort to date, we have lowered the annual electrical power consumption for computer monitors from 1,122,375 kwh's per year to approximately 459,189 kwh's per year. This includes the impact of 500 additional monitors that were new to the environment.

2. Server Consolidation - Many of our computer servers in the data center support only one application. This is often requested by the application vendor. Virtualization software such as VMWare is now available that allows multiple instances of a computer operating system to exist on the same server. Each instance can be configured in a way that assures needed server resources (memory, CPU, etc) are available. We have retired over 20 servers in the past year through this technique.

3. Computer Center Utilities - There have been several initiatives related to the data center. Prior to 2007, we were tracking to exceed 200KW's of peak power consumption in the data center by 2010 based on the growth of electrical demand. The latter was caused by new storage, servers and switches. We were also seeing a 1:1 ratio between the data center load (servers, storage, switches) and the mechanical systems required to cool the data center and light it. In other words, for every watt used in the data center, we needed another watt to cool the heat produced.

Our goal was to stay well below 200KW peak load in the data center and reduce the 1:1 ratio. While we are not done, we have essentially achieved our goal. Today, we run at about 160KW at peak load; below the 170KW~ peak loads we have seen in the prior year. This is despite the increased number of terabytes of storage and applications the medical center has demanded we support. This has come about by consolidating servers, replacing older, less energy efficient devices, and reconfiguring equipment.

The data center load to mechanical (HVAC) load has also improved. Instead of 1:1, we are now running at about 1 watt of data center use for every .7 watt of mechanical load. This has been the result of better thermal management (e.g. reducing underfloor cables, using perforated inserts, shutting down an unneeded A/C unit, adjusting humidistats to increase efficiency, using blanking panels and other methods to better direct air-flow (i.e. hot aisle/cold aisle enforcement), and other techniques.

28 comments:

Jon Udell said...

Nicely done, keep up the good work.

Hadn't heard "kill a watt" -- that's catchy. I also like Amory Lovins' term: negawatts.

Paul Levy said...

Not related to this, but please check out Grand Rounds today at http://runningahospital.blogspot.com/2007/10/grand-rounds-volume-4-number-6.html. Some moving and insightful stories about experiences in hospitals. Thanks.

Thundertype said...

John, great post! I really enjoyed your explanation of how you initially measured data center consumption and what steps you took to improve on these metrics.

This section leads me to a couple of questions:
-How did you initially begin measuring the 'whole data center' consumption, including cooling, servers, storage, etc?
-Has the organization tied IT performance evaluation and reward to data center consumption? If so, how did this come about? Was it a difficult decision or 'tough sell' to go this route?

John Halamka said...

When we began the "kill-o-watt" effort over a year ago, we realized how little we knew about where electricity was being consumed in the data center. At that time we had two power meters. The first monitored the machine load including the UPS and all PDU's, servers, storage, network devices and printers connected to the UPS. The second monitored the mechanical load including the data center lighting, cooling and humidity control systems. These meters gave us gross statistics which we began to log so the trends could be monitored over time. This also helped us monitor the ratio between the machine and mechanical loads which led to improvements noted in my earlier posting.

To obtain more granular data, we had to take sample readings off the circuits in the power distribution units (PDUs). This was time-consuming, but worthwhile as it allowed us to baseline what was consuming electricity and provided direction to our efforts to conserve. Our data showed...


System KW

Mainframe server 4
Unix/Linux servers 23
MS Windows servers 61

SAN attached storage 17
Content Addressable Storage 3
Tape storage 5

Data center network switches 18
High speed printer 1
Command center monitors 14

Total 146

Taking readings in this way was time-consuming and still did not give us the full granularity we desired. To resolve this, we budgeted an upgrade of our PDUs this year. The new units will allow us to do circuit monitoring. By interfacing the new PDU's to our environmental monitoring software, we will be able to trend consumption over several months. More importantly, we will be able to provide detailed feedback to staff on their "kill-o-watt" efforts as positive reinforcement.

I have also tied data center electrical consumption to the performance pay of my infrastructure manager. If the data center grows to more than 220KW, we will encounter various electrical and mechanical chokepoints such as computer room air conditioning units, pumps, dry coolers, transformers, and so forth. The performance goal I have set is to deploy technologies and system practices that will contain the growth of our data center machine load to no more than 220kW capacity over the next 10 years. So far, we are on track to do this. Part of our success will be how quickly our major vendor partners such as EMC, HP and Cisco are able to "green-up" their products.

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