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Viridity Offers Free Data Center Power Utilization Software

If you hold your breath hoping that you have enough power and cooling capacity when a new server, switch, or storage device, is added to the data center floor, Viridity Software has a free tool that could help you breathe easier.

The company is preparing to launch EnergyCheck, a free software download for those who want to get a handle on the energy consumption and utilization rates of IT equipment in existing or newly acquired data centers, and those planning for a data center expansion.

In the way that storage resource management (SRM) software allows storage administrators to analyze capacity utilization and reclaim unused space, Viridity Software’s energy resource management (ERM) software peers into the data center to understand overall energy efficiency, discover hidden opportunities for recapturing power, cooling and space capacity.

Over the course of a week, the EnergyCheck software performs a non-intrusive server power-utilization analysis and delivers a high-level report summarizing utilization and the overall power/cooling savings opportunity.

While EnergyCheck is free, it only offers general information about capacity, utilization and potential savings. Viridity’s flagship product, EnergyCenter, offers a more detailed analysis and provides the steps needed to reclaim power.

EnergyCenter measures energy consumption at the device level and tracks actual utilization for each specific IT device. Energy consumption is then profiled to identify opportunities for consolidation, as well as plan for the placement of new equipment. Like EnergyCenter, EnergyCheck uses a database of manufacturer power specifications to measure whether a server, storage or switch is drawing more power than it should.

Viridity’s initial focus is on servers; as storage systems and switches are less “dynamic” tend to draw power evenly, according to Mike Tresh, director of product marketing and management, Viridity Software.

“We are always looking at three types of data for any given system – good, better, best – to profile what’s going on the floor. We look for underutilized servers and can target specific racks, rooms and rows by targeting specific IP addresses,” he said.

EnergyCheck tabulates the data to determine power utilization rates and how much money could be saved through device retirement or consolidation. The software also identifies opportunities to reclaim unused capacity.

There have been many advances in green IT. Industry groups, vendors and the U.S. government are all working towards making servers, storage and networking gear energy efficient. While those groups work on measurements and metrics, however, there are only a handful of actual tools available for measuring, monitoring and optimizing energy consumption in the data center.

The Green Grid – a consortium of IT vendors and end users – embarked on a high-profile quest to make IT more energy efficient. The results of that endeavor and of parallel efforts in government haven’t been spectacular, however, the groundwork is being laid for substantial long-term performance improvements, primarily through establishing what to measure and how.

The Green Grid has joined forces with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Save Now and Federal Energy Management Programs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR Program, the European Union Code of Conduct, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s (METI) Green IT Initiative, and Japan’s Green IT Promotion Council (GIPC) regarding “guiding principles of data center energy efficiency metrics.” All the parties have adopted the idea of Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) as the preferred energy efficiency metric.

Establishing metrics is important, but, in the meantime, waste abounds. Early tests of Viridity’s EnergyCheck application across four beta sites have yielded some eye-opening results. Of the beta sites tested – two of which were heavily virtualized data centers – none had a utilization rate higher than 24 percent.

“It’s too early to tell whether virtual machines (VMs) waste more power, but I’d say the trend is that everything is underutilized,” said Tresh. “IT doesn’t worry about power because they’ve never had to. When power consumption does get close to the margin and IT is told that they can’t add another server, that’s when they start to have concerns.”

EnergyCheck will be available as a free download on October 12. The Viridity EnergyCenter software is sold on an annual subscription basis and offered at an entry price of approximately $25,000.

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