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Energy Star for Storage

by Administrator on July 2, 2009

3PAR has its panties in a twist about the proposed Energy Star standard for storage.  You can read about the standard and about 3PAR and others reactions to it here.

The quote that jumped out at me from the rant is this one.  Rather than focusing on energy efficient power supplies, the writer argues the following.

There are far bigger savings to be made with software functionality in storage arrays. Software allows two main benefits to be achieved:

  • Storage array software can reduce the power or turn off disk drives; disk drives account for 80% of the power of a storage array.
  • Storage array software can reduce the amount of data that is stored on the disk. Techniques for reducing data on the disk include:
    Thin Provisioning
    Deleted data reclamation
    Tiered storage
    These techniques are in the main additive. The potential for saving data using one or more of these techniques is again to achieve an additional 80% or greater reduction in the amount of data stored.

Hmm.  Apparently, the Energy Star guys are a lot smarter than I gave them credit for.  By ignoring a lot of value add software embedded on array controllers, and the dubious value of this stuff to actual energy use reduction, perhaps they recognized the real issue.  Saving power in storage doesn’t derive from compresssing and de-duplicating bits in a thinly provisioned and tiered infrastructure.   Those are tactical approaches that deliver short term gains but no real long term improvements.  The only way to reduce power consumption by storage is to reduce the amount of disk storage.

Yup.  And the only way to reduce the amount of disk storage is to manage data better.  That means getting rid of the dupes and drek, the contraband and the archive data that currenly occupies about 2/3rds of every spindle you have.  Green archive on tape or optical (or even removable HDs like Infinivault) trumps disk storage anyway you cut it.

That 80% savings they are on about from doing value-add on the array controller makes no sense over time.

There, I said it.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

dvellante July 2, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Jon…thanks for the ‘plug.’

We generally agree with your get rid of stuff refrain and have for quite some time:

Here’s a summary if you don’t want to click:

“Action Item: Though challenging and becoming increasingly complex as storage requirements grow, re-architecting the data center yields much improved operational efficiencies and cost savings. Technologies including HSM (Hierarchical Storage Management), deduplication, thin provisioning, virtualization, and snapshot copies can play a role but at the end of the day the root issue is the ability to defensibly get rid of useless data. This means you have to be able to make smart decisions about your information, and that starts with the ability to classify it. Soon data classification will become a requirement for most enterprise and SMB data centers if they are to have any hope of managing their ever growing data. The time to start is now.”

It’s unclear how this fits into an energy star framework. Maybe you have some suggestions– we’d be happy to listen.

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