HP’s Green Data Center Portfolio Keeps Growing

PALO ALTO, Calif. –- HP  introduced Thermal Zone Mapping (TZM), a new technology designed to identify trouble spots in the data center in terms of energy efficiency.

The computer systems giant, which unveiled TZM at HP Labs here Tuesday, also said it’s on track to release Dynamic Smart Cooling (DSC), a key energy efficiency technology later this summer.

TZM provides a thermal map of the data center, identifying the flow of cold and heat and potential trouble spots. HP officials said TZM provides a unique level of failure analysis.

Specifically, TZM gives a three-dimensional model of exactly how much and where data center air conditioners are cooling.

As a result, HP said IT departments and data center staff can arrange and manage air conditioning for optimal cooling, increased energy efficiency and lower costs. The idea is to nip over cooling in the bud.

“My house has a much more sophisticated air conditioner than most data centers,” said Paul Perez, an HP vice president for scalable datacenter infrastructure. “I can program it to vary the amount of cooling over time. We’re trying to bring that level of sophistication to data centers.”

The patent-pending TZM is part of a larger set of Thermal Assessment Services HP is rolling out. The assessment services scale from a basic analysis of a data center’s energy efficiency, to an intermediate assessment augmented by a two-dimensional thermal map, and finally, to the most comprehensive assessment, which features three-dimensional TZM.

“It’s kind of like whether you need an MRI or a full body scan,” Partha Ranganathan, principal research scientist at HP Labs, told internetnews.com. “It depends on the scope of the problem.”

Pricing is based on the size and requirements of the customer’s data center, but HP said it expects the top-of-the-line implementation, including the sensors for the assessment, to average about $100,000.

At the highest or most comprehensive level, the assessment service is designed to help data center managers play “what-if?” scenarios, such as the impact of infrastructure changes or the impact of an air conditioning failure.

On the latter point, the issue of cooling efficiency and uptime is huge. About 60 percent of power in the data center goes to cooling, according to HP’s Perez.

IDC analyst Jean Bozman said power and cooling was the top concern of IT managers surveyed at the top 200 data centers. Twenty-two percent of those surveyed by IDC listed power and cooling as their major concern. The second greatest concern? Availability and redundancy, with 15.5 percent.

Meanwhile, HP announced Wachovia Bank as its first customer for DSC, a set of technologies the company said could save corporations as much as $1 million per data center per year.

DSC is designed to actively manage the data center environment so more cooling is sent to overheated areas and not wasted where it’s not needed.

“With our continuing focus on energy costs and the environment, it is important for Wachovia to reduce our data center power consumption and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Bob Cashner, senior vice president, corporate real estate at Wachovia. “We expect HP’s Dynamic Smart Cooling to do both, thereby reducing our operating costs and helping achieve Wachovia’s carbon reduction goal.”

HP said it’s working on future implementations of DSC with customers worldwide, representing more than 70 data centers. Perez said when DSC is officially rolled out later this summer, HP will announce several customers across different regions.

He said DSC uses standard methodologies, but the price will be a function of how much energy savings HP estimates it can make in a company’s data center. A break-even point in cost might be three-to-four years if new equipment, such as air conditioning with variable speed fans, needs to be installed.

TZM and DSC will be offered separately or in combination depending on the needs of the customer.

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