Green data storage is a priority for many European storage professionals, and a substantial minority have begun to implement measures to cut energy usage. Green storage considerations are important when buying storage hardware and many users would pay extra for more energy-efficient hardware. Those are some of the key findings of a technology survey of 136 storage professionals carried out by SearchStorage.co.UK in May.
While 57% of respondents do not have initiatives or commitments to develop green storage plans right now, the remainder either have green storage plans or are developing them. And the majority of those without initiatives in place (68%) expect their organisation to develop green storage plans over the next five years, with 37% confident they would have green storage plans in place over the next two years. Only a third (32%) of those surveyed do not expect their company to develop a green storage initiative.
Green storage features are important when buying products
Of the 43% of respondents with green storage plans in place or afoot, 20% consider green storage features important compared to other storage features when evaluating products, while 49% think it is "somewhat important." Twenty-three percent consider green features to be not very important, while 8% think they are of no consequence.
Testimony to the importance of "green friendliness" is that 66% of those questioned would pay more for a green product.
So, what products have respondents implemented in an effort to achieve a green storage infrastructure?
Virtualization tops green storage technology implementations
Topping the list of energy-saving technologies was virtualized servers, which had been implemented by 78% of those questioned. This was followed by virtualized storage (44%), thin provisioning (41%) and tiered storage (38%). Data deduplication had been deployed by 36% of those surveyed, and solid-state drives by 21% of respondents.
A key technology touted as green in recent years is massive array of idle disks (MAID), but only 2% reported implementing it; however, 10% did report deploying arrays with spin down capabilities.
Use of external cloud storage for backups or data archiving was cited as an energy-saving technology used by 8% of respondents.
As to the reasons for switching to products that save on energy costs, many reported upgrading to improve systems for capacity (47%) and performance reasons (38%). But for a large proportion of respondents this coincided with the ability to save money on power consumption (64%) and cooling costs (44%), as well as lessening environmental impacts (27%).
Green data storage driven by savings on power consumption and energy
What was also clear from qualitative responses to the technology survey is that there is no standard way of measuring the potential green impact of storage products. While some respondents were able to point to their use of energy-efficiency benchmarks for servers, such as SPECpower_ssj2008, no such storage energy-efficiency benchmark for individual products exists. The best most users could do was to refer to energy consumption figures for the whole premises, or in some cases to the data centre, its aisles or cabinets.
What did our respondents think of green data storage? The overwhelming impression formed from respondents' comments was that for many green storage has the deeply practical aim of saving money spent on energy and that achieving "greenness" is something that goes beyond the capabilities of a single organisation.
"Green storage is interesting only in as much as it reduces power consumption and thereby saves on cost," said one respondent. "By its very nature, IT equipment is environmentally destructive and green IT is a problem for manufacturers and regulation, not action from cash-strapped organisations."
Another respondent echoed this sentiment. "Green storage has to be part of a bigger 'greener ICT' strategy and must not stand alone. Nor should one just look at the power in the data centre but all the way back to the company from whom the business buys their energy." For another respondent, responsibility lies with government to oversee efforts toward green IT. "Maybe if taxes were lowered or there were other benefits from governments this would stimulate the process."