Green coding - Nutanix: Powering up cloud consumption dashboards

This is a guest post for the Computer Weekly Developer Network written by James Sturrock in his role as director of systems engineering for hybrid multi-cloud computing company Nutanix.

Stressing the importance of cloud resource intelligence from an application development perspective, from the point of deployment and right the way through to management and ongoing maintenance, Sturrock argues the case for a more formalised approach to cloud power consumption control for the greater good of users, business and of course the planet itself.

Sturrock writes as follows…

There’s no on-off switch for the cloud as such.

Yes okay, cloud computing is essentially flexible and controllable by its very nature and we know that instances can be spun down as readily as they are spun up. But in reality, many enterprise cloud estates are provisioned to run at a certain grade, rating and gauge level and not then subsequently ‘feathered’ with enough precision engineering to make them as efficient as they should be.

We have been working for some months now to address that reality and we think that new capabilities in our cloud platform will deliver visibility into the power consumption of a running working live production environment.

This will help organisations improve sustainability planning with power consumption based on measurements from the hardware in use, updated in near-real time. Cloud engineers, developers and their corresponding operations team members will be able to visualise power metrics via a straightforward dashboard to understand energy utilisation across their deployed cloud environment.

Insight, no, really

The technology industry is probably guilty of using the term ‘insight’ as if it were some kind of view into a magical foretelling, especially when it talks about analytics. But this is insight that really means something i.e. if cloud application X uses database Y on cloud service Z and it experiences peak load surges and corresponding lows that the engineering team is largely oblivious to, wouldn’t it make sense to know about these workflow spikes and troughs so that their energy efficiency metrics can be more accurately mapped against IT expenditure planning?

Spoiler alert: the answer is yes, it does make sense.

“Energy efficiency metrics are increasingly important for IT infrastructure personnel looking to optimise resources and meet sustainability goals,” said Steve McDowell, chief analyst, Nand Research. “Active monitoring of power metrics is an exciting new tool for [live cloud deployment users] struggling to achieve their environmental goals.”

If I may briefly point to our own Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Index, this market technology analysis found that some 88% of organisations agree that sustainability is a priority and many firms are taking active steps to implement sustainability initiatives, with the most common being modernising IT infrastructure.

Planning pains

Although it’s a fairly clearly defined target and goal, the act of modernising IT infrastructure requires a good deal of lower substrate technology mechanics – the clue is in the name: infrastructure – which is why IT managers should be looking to embrace platform-level server-based webscale architecture technology that is capable of holistic management and control.

Because organisations often struggle with being able to accurately measure and plan their energy use and their carbon emissions across their IT estate, they need a way to view what is often a complex mix of on-site servers, co-located platforms and service provider hosting.

This complexity can often make it difficult to access data and insights that would help inform consumers of IT resources of their energy and wider resource use.

Consolidating workloads

Nutanix’s Sturrock: Cleaner tech is a ubiquitous all-pervasive consideration.

When organisations start to visualise real-time power usage metrics and report historical data in support of their sustainability goals, IT practitioners can strike the right balance of performance and efficient delivery of apps, data and compute.

Technologies such as virtualisation, containers and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) consolidate workloads onto fewer physical devices, reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions compared to traditional infrastructure.

This is all about the opportunity to simplify the power consumption measurement process and gain detailed information on energy usage, rather than firms relying on estimations based on assumptions or ‘typical’ consumption values.

Falling footprints

Once deployed, we’re talking about an opportunity for organisations to record somewhere around a 70% decrease in physical footprint and a 50% reduction in energy consumption when compared to legacy systems. As we know, a reduction in energy consumption can lead to a lessening in carbon emissions, helping to minimise the environmental burden of an organisation’s IT systems.

Green computing starts with application code, it starts with infrastructure, it starts with users at the front end and it starts with cloud services at the back end. Like the environment itself, cleaner technology is a question of ubiquitous all-pervasive consideration. Let’s clean up the clicks.

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