RealTime IT News

Cassatt Aims For Greener Datacenters

Virtualization is a hot in datacenter circles these days. The ability to consolidate multiple servers is a money and energy saver. But servers are still often overused, running 24 x 7 in environments where it's not always necessary.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cassatt has an answer to this issue in its Active Power Management (APM) technology designed to safely and intelligently power off servers when they are not needed or idle.

In large and multiple datacenters, servers are powered on longer than needed because there is either no effective management software or safety concerns.

"In a typical environment, servers are on 24 x 7 because there's an urban legend that it's bad to switch them off," Jay Fry, Cassatt's vice president of marketing, told internetnews.com. "We can probably save 50 percent of a datacenter's power bill by turning off servers safely and efficiently." He said early tests with customers reflect such a savings.

Cassatt's APM technology is based on a sophisticated policy engine that takes into account server priorities and needs, server interrelationships, application dependencies and relationships, and individual server power consumption in deciding when to power-down machines.

It takes into account variables such as peak- and off-peak power schedules, time of day, and emergencies such as "demand curtailment" mandates from power companies to reduce electrical consumption -- for example, on hot summer weekdays. The technology determines which servers to power down, and for how long, then safely handles application requirements before turning them off.

As servers are needed again, it applies the same logic and priorities to power those servers back on as appropriate.

"The idea is that the technology is easy to adopt, gives a very quick return on investment and is not invasive to the IT environment, so you don't need to make major changes to hardware and software," said Fry. "We help with setting things up and do a proof of concept onsite to help get things going. You can adjust the policy setting once it's installed and you get a continual feed of what's going on."

Several companies, including Brocade, have been testing APM, which was announced this week. And Pacific Gas & Electric, the electric utility for Northern California, is working with some of the early-adopter companies and is impressed with the results so far.

"PG&E has been offering Demand Response and load-shifting program incentives to our large customers for a number of years," said Mark Bramfitt, an energy efficiency program manager at PG&E, in a statement. "Cassatt is the first company that we've seen take these principles and apply them to servers running in the datacenter, traditionally the largest energy hogs in most organizations."

Energy costs in the datacenter are a big deal. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported last month that datacenters are consuming up to 1.5 percent of all the electricity generated in the U.S.

"Our most recent survey puts power and cooling as the No. 1 issue in datacenters today. Servers have been kept on 24 x 7, leading to an enormous waste of power and cooling resources," said Michelle Bailey, senior research vice president for IDC.

Bailey thinks Cassatt has a unique solution because "it allows customers to save on their power and cooling costs in ways never before possible."

APM is designed for medium-to-large companies with hundreds, if not thousands, of servers. Pricing and a formal release date are scheduled for later this month.