December 2010

Infortrend Newsletter

Storage Interview Series

Green goes mainstream; what does that mean for storage environments?

Companies today face a multitude of environmental issues. Sooner or later, someone - such as your boss, a valuable customer or a government agency - is going to require you to comply with their eco-friendly policy and regulations. "Going Green" should not become a burden for the company, but it should be something that helps you save on expenses and contributes to your bottom line.
In the following interview with Greg Schulz, founder of Server and StorageIO, you will find all you need to know about going green and storage, from bridging the gap between reducing carbon footprints and optimizing existing resources in data centers to new technologies and practical tips. 


Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO, an IT industry advisory and consultancy firm. Mr Schulz has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, server/storage architect and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst research and advisory consulting duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at and he can be found on twitter @storageio.

Infortrend: A focus of your green IT blog entries is the gap between simply reducing carbon footprint and optimizing the use of existing resources in data centers. What will be key factors for overcoming this gap and make enterprises focus more on optimizing resources?

Greg Schulz: The key factors for overcoming the Green gap of disconnect that exists between perception of Green IT being solely focused around reducing carbon footprint and broader issues, opportunities and benefits will be just that, becoming aware of the gap! What I mean by that is if you become aware of the gap and that Green IT means many different things including boosting productivity while reducing energy footprint per work done, many other opportunities start to become apparent.

Thus the key factor becomes gaining awareness that Green IT, while one component is about reduce carbon footprint, that the big and broader aspects are very much associated to boosting business productivity in a more efficient and effective economical manner which means a smaller environmental footprint per amount of work done. It’s really about reducing or eliminating waste when you think about it.

Consequently once the awareness of the gap exists, then your eyes and ears start to pick up on different themes including shifting from energy avoidance to energy efficiency, such as doing more work per watt of energy (e.g. IOPS per watt, bandwidth per watt, transactions per watt, compute per watt, video or files served per watt).

Infortrend: How do you see the future role of RAID products in green IT in terms of both reducing carbon footprint and optimizing existing resources? What will be some of the key factors for RAID in the future development of the green IT sector? How will the growing focus on green storage among businesses affect the future development and adoption of RAID storage products?

Greg Schulz: RAID is one of those interesting technologies that has been around for a couple of decades and thus is not seen as sizzling or fun to talk about by many marketing or buzz types, however it is very much alive and plays an interesting role in boosting efficiency and effectiveness for an optimized data infrastructure.

Consequently RAID is not always seen or perceived as being a Green technology such as Intelligent Power Management, MAID, dedupe and thin provisioning, which for the most part have an emphasis on energy avoidance not to mention being seen as new and sexy technologies which are always fun to talk about.

The reality is that those and other technologies all help to address different facets of being Green which means being efficient and effective. This means that optimization includes both reducing your data footprint impact as well as boosting productivity when and where there is work to be done.

Consequently RAID fits into both of those categories by being able to boost productivity and performance for active data and applications or stretching capacity with different RAID levels. Thus on a go-forward basis, look for continued enhancements to RAID controllers and their algorithms (same with software based RAID) that enable better performance per watt of energy, enable more data to be stored in a given footprint including space and energy, that addresses drive rebuild times with faster I/O and reconstruct or copy functions and probably even new variations of RAID.

For example, RAID 6 has become very popular to create larger RAID groups with more drives in those groups leveraging dual parity drives for protection yet reducing overhead. It was only a few years ago that RAID 6 was seen as some very rare and esoteric, thus it would not surprise me to see maybe something like a RAID 7 with three parity drives and even larger or wider RAID groups and stripes not to mention distributed RAID. Bottom line, RAID in general is not going away, however it is absolutely evolving with the times for addressing availability, accessibility, performance, capacity and energy efficiency for active and idle data.

The second part of our interview with Greg Schulz will be posted in next month’s Infortrend Newsletter.