Cutting Out 'Mystery Machines' Could Save Power


Recently there has been a raft of green IT solutions, including home PCs, but particularly for larger, power-hungry data centres. While home PCs can be as inefficient as to waste 50% of power in making noise and heat, the sheer size of data centres makes them an obvious target for a bit of increased efficiency. It seems though, that the best way to save power may be to turn off 'mystery machines'.

Unfortunately, the cost of improving the efficiency of computers is quite significant. In the home PC market this may put off consumers, but in business servers, which are always on, the costs may be quickly recouped through reduced electrical bills. Google fellow, Urs Hölzle, said, "This is not a technology problem. We have power supplies with 90 percent efficiency shipping today."

Last week, at the AFCOM Data Center World conference, many people were suggesting that rather than waiting for improved technology and doing nothing now, managers should be working on simple fixes now that can have a dramatic impact.

In some companies it may be the case that there are many servers that are left on for no good reason, simply to serve legacy applications. Mark Monroe, Sun Microsystem's director of sustainable computing, gave a talk where he explained that they were able to tuen off 10% of their servers in this way. He called the phenomenon ‘data center drift’.

He went on to explain that a survey had found two companies had 504 ‘mystery machines’ out of 4,300 servers. When they were turned off they had no actual impact on the companies operations. This is something that should be simple to implement, but can have a dramatic impact on energy bills. It could also be possible to at least set up these servers to some useful purpose. ::Green Biz ::Picture Source