The green data center and the living cloud.

Tonight I was reading about green computing needing a data center whisperer. I believe there’s a lot more productive way to integrate the green data center and the cloud that lives in it.

Virtual server clouds certainly have a major impact on making the green data center greener still. Efficiency gains from running servers at much higher utilization rates by converting low utilized physical servers into virtual machines on a much smaller amount of physical servers is undeniable. Combine this with the ease of administration and maintenance of fewer physical boxes and the cloud looks like the greatest thing since sliced bread. The obvious reduction in power usage from fewer physical machines to support the same amount of workload is clearly a benefit to be data center’s bottom line as well as to reducing its carbon footprint.

The next trend that a lot of people are pursuing is fine monitoring of cooling in the data center using sensors that are already commonly integrated into servers. I’m never one to criticize gathering all available information, but in this case, I think this is a lot of unproductive effort. It’s possible to measure cooling with great amounts of granularity, controlling the cooling to that degree is next to impossible, at least right now. I think this is going to lead to large amounts of data overload for no result.

So, how do we take more advantage of the cloud and how does the cloud “live”? Let me give you a case example. We’re just completing commissioning of the core of our first virtual server data center cloud, based on the new Xen Cloud Platform. We chose XCP for a whole lot of fantastic features, ease of administration, and the ability to integrate it with our own front end, making it truly our cloud.

One of the features of XCP is the work load balancing. Create a new virtual machine and the work load balancer automatically chooses the physical server to put it on to even out the load across the cloud hosts. Shut down a cloud host for maintenance and XCP automatically shifts the virtual machines from that cloud host to a different one, without interrupting service to the customer.

Where these capabilities really shine is the potential to shut down physical servers completely during light load times and restart physical servers when the demand increases. This is the essence of a living cloud, it grows and shrinks to the need for it. Combine this automatic reduction of cooling in proportion and you have the ultimate power saving machine. Energy efficient servers, energy efficient cooling, all the capacity when you need it, and no underutilized servers and cooling sucking up power to no purpose. You get precisely the capacity you need when you need it, no more, no less.

This is the next evolution of the cloud’s contribution to data center efficiency. Is your cloud alive?

Join me starting Monday for my series “Birth of a cloud”!

Vern, SwiftWater Telecom

virtual private servers
virtual private workstations


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