Cost containment is a primary concern for any CIO, especially when it comes to data center operations. They have to scrutinize expenses and balance capital expenditures with operating expenditures (OPEX) in order to determine where they can find savings that can be applied to new projects and new equipment. One of the biggest OPEX expenses is power. Conserving power without cutting back on cooling or systems can be difficult, but with the right power management software, your data center customers can reduce their total cost of ownership.
Data centers consume a lot of power. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, U.S. data centers consumed 91 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, and that is expected to increase to 140 billion kilowatt hours annually by 2020. One analyst report says that IT consumes 10 percent of the world’s energy.
In order to reduce the amount of energy that your data center customers draw from the grid, you need to help them implement green data center practices, including installing power management software.
Saving Power with Virtualization
Virtualization is one way to help data centers conserve power. The act of virtualization itself reduces the amount of hardware, because it consolidates services on fewer servers, so by taking servers offline, you are already reducing power consumption and reducing demand for cooling. However, there are software tools that work in conjunction with virtualization for power management.
You can control power consumption in virtual computing environments, either by controlling how the hardware components use and deliver power or by monitoring how the virtualized environment makes use of hardware resources in order to adjust for service load and computing capacity.
In order to control power consumption in hardware, chipmakers typically include setting or an Operating System Control in order to manage power to the subsystems. All of today’s operating systems also have hardware power options built in. Hypervisors also can monitor and moderate power consumption and manage options such as power saving and redundancy. Some of the hardware also has controls for load balancing and redundancy of power supplies, as well as power regulator chips. Optimizing the virtual hardware settings can reduce power consumption.
Three Virtual Power Management Solutions
The virtualization software vendors also offer power management within virtual host clusters. Here is how three of them deal with the power problem:
1. VMware vSphere – VMware comes with power policies that can monitor, control, and adjust power consumption. VMware vCenter is installed with default power management policies, but they can be adjusted to control BIOS power options.
VMware also features distributed power management (DPM) to control host resource power usage. DPM continually monitors the cluster hosts and determines those hosts that can be set to standby mode until they are needed by the cluster. The vSphere Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) is used to power down hosts and move virtual machines (VMs) to other hosts within a cluster, bringing those resources back online when needed.
2. Microsoft Hyper-V Power Management – The System Center Virtual Machine Manager included with Hyper-V handles dynamic management of virtualization power. It works much the same way as the vSphere DPM, turning off hosts in the cluster in order to conserve resources and power. It also uses dynamic optimization, similar to vSphere DRS, and dynamically moves VMs.
For data centers that have multiple hypervisors, Hyper-V also accommodates virtualization power control in vSphere, XenServer, and Hyper-V in order to consolidate hypervisor power management. In addition, it offers power optimization that can be scheduled to run at off-peak hours, when power consumption is expected to be low, such as after hours or weekends.
3. Citrix XenServer – XenServer also features very basic virtualization power management within a XenServer Server Pool. It uses a workload balancer in order to provide dynamic movement of resources to other hosts. It also uses Integrated Lights-Out–embedded remote management and the Intelligent Platform Management Interface, which provides monitoring and management independent of the CPU, BIOS, or operating system.
Using virtualization, you can gain more control over data center power distribution, allocating power based on VM demands. Light workloads require fewer resources and less power. Tools like VMware’s DRS can automate much of this power management, adjusting VM use and power consumption based on pre-configured policies, basically moving more VMs onto fewer servers. Of course, even idle servers consume power, typically 60 percent of maximum energy usage. Therefore, the best strategy is to make sure all of the server hardware is using DPM.
Optimizing power consumption in any data center can be tricky. You want to talk to experts who know the tricks of the trade and have “been there, done that.” If you want to learn more about how you can help your customers reduce their data center power consumption, the Ingram Micro service team is always ready to offer advice and assistance.