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N°31  |  November   2008
Experts voice

Bull and SAP: toward a sustainable Datacenter
By Benoit Hudzia & Ben Greene - SAP Research, Ahcene Latreche - Bull

Rising energy costs combined with new information technology equipment increase the stress of power and cooling infrastructure. These factors threaten the operating resilience of today’s datacenter. In order to tackle this looming menace, it will be necessary to develop datacenter energy aware services to increase efficiency and enable IT implementers to improve their productivity per watt. However, optimizing operating efficiency in this context can be a complex mission. Facilitating the transition toward an energy efficient and consequently green datacenter is one of the challenges. The central focus of this document is to describe the current state of datacenters and the efforts that SAP and BULL are taking in order to enable sustainable datacenter technologies.

Large-scale datacenters are the corner stone of the architecture supporting the Internet, Web, and especially Web services. However, as the current hunger for Internet services increases, datacenters are put under a tremendous level of pressure not only to deliver such services but to deliver them cheaply.

In order to provide growing companies a way to control datacenter costs and allow future expansion, the manager need to solve the jigsaw puzzle that are the power and cooling issues. By retrofitting and deploying more efficient datacenters, IT organizations will be able to cope with increased computing, network, and storage demands while lowering energy costs. These efforts will translate into a reduction of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) while being able to meet future business needs.

The new server technologies, currently being deployed in datacenters are adding energy aware management intelligence, and our mission is to develop on top of those services an overall datacenter energy management paradigm and intelligence. This will bring the business applications and end-user services together to be part of the sustainable dynamics. This two part document describes the current state of the art in datacenters, then explains the efforts that SAP and BULL are taking in order to enable sustainable datacenter technologies.

Current state of datacenter technology and their environmental impact
Evidence of sustained growth of datacenters power consumption has been widely reported. According to survey estimates [1], electricity use associated with servers doubled from 2000 to 2005 and the projected annual growth rate is 14% per year in the U.S.. These trends are not likely to reverse but are expected to accelerate (Figure:1). However, behind this already blight picture hide an inefficient truth (Figure:2): datacenter hardware waste energy[2].

Fig 1
Fig 1: Cost to power


Fig 2

Fig. 2: Datacenter power usage repartition

While recent improvements of servers power efficiency try to amend this state, the demand for applications is actually outstripping those improvements. As a consequence, the number of server units continues to grow, driving up IT power consumption. In addition power-efficiency by virtue of the virtualisation / consolidation techniques increases computing density and thus aggravates cooling challenges as well as server management and administration costs (Figure: 3). Demonstrating datacenter energy efficiency is not just about shaving kilowatt hours off energy bills but also presents a management issue. Energy efficiency is important not only to curb runaway power consumption, but also to accommodate more datacenter capacity while maintaining similar operational costs. If a company can achieve sustainability, it can delay spending on capital improvements.

Fig 3
Fig. 3: IT spending trends


Finally there is increasing external pressure on companies to push for sustainable policies:

  • Technical:
    • The rising Cost of Energy
    • Datacenter rising Energy Consumption
  • Awareness : Public Opinion increasing
  • Economic :
    • Consumer Demand Increasing
    • Corporate Customer Demand Increasing
    • Shareholder Demand Increasing
  • Social and Environmental : Consensus growing on Environmental Impact and more widely the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
  • Political Government Laws / Regulations increasing

This situation creates the need to develop new solutions, tools and protocols in order to adapt to these new conditions. This situation presents an opportunity to finally treat IT the same way a company treats project regarding performance optimization and cost reduction through implementation of best practices.

SAP & Bull efforts toward a sustainable datacenter
To date, the business effort of Green IT is in its first phase to tackle the issue of energy consumption of a datacenter’s hardware and auxiliaries. The next phase is to expand the green efficiency to the overall datacenter, in particular software efficiency and best practices. Bull and SAP expect to combine their respective skills to align SAP software suite with the new datacenter energy efficiency policies and develop best practices and operation guidance’s for the benefits of their respective customers. In order to set up a sustainable, successful project, SAP and BULL are trying to tackle every aspect of the IT life cycle (Figure:4):

  • Design
  • Deploy
  • Operate
  • Dispose

Fig 4

Fig. 4: Sustainable IT life cycle


Furthermore, in order to provide businesses with longterm view of sustainability rather than seeking out short-term stunts we identified various key area of investigation and their potential return on investment as well as their complexity to implement (Figure:5).

Fig 5
Fig. 5: Sustainable IT Business Case

This allows us to treat IT as a key part of the equation, permitting us to develop an environmentally sound strategy enabling the much after sought synchronisation between business and IT.

a) Bull objectives and benefits: Through its concept of Bio Datacenter, Bull is developing an innovative approach to an effective combination of server technologies and best practices to deliver performance, flexibility and a radical inflexion of energy consumption. By actively participating in this project Bull expects to work on new best practice solutions related to Business critical applications, processes and High performance Computing from the perspectives of green efficiency.

b) SAP objectives and benefits: SAP IT, is working closely with its vendors and partners to develop initiatives that support the design, implementation and use of technologies in ways that preserve energy and develop corporate social responsibility.
SAP Research, is working on a number of research projects to solve current and future business challenges related to developing a sustainable business strategy with a special focus on ”Green IT.” One of its objectives is to support its internal efforts for”SAP Managed Service” toward sustainable hosted solutions.
SAP, also seeks to play a strategic role to address companies business objectives and industry requirements in energy savings and efficiencies by providing a comprehensive and holistic basis for managing and reducing the environmental impact of their solutions.

Conclusion
To date, the development of Green IT is in its infancy, and focuses on tackling hardware and auxiliary related issues. In the upcoming phase, SAP and BULL are initiating a collaboration in order to develop new datacenter energy efficiency policies, best practices and operational guidance. These steps will be developed in partnership and with a view to enabling customers to step-wise integrate these processes into their business practises. This will help customers to gain tactical flexibility, cut operating costs and last but not least gain a sustainable competitive advantage with their datacenters.

References
[1]  M. Bailey, “Building, planning, and operating the next-generation datacenter,” IDC, March 2008.
[2]  EPA, “Epa report on server and data center energy efficiency,” August 2007, http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=prod_development.server_efficiency_study.

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