Did you turn off the lights (or servers) when you left the office this weekend

This is my 3rd thanksgiving week in the NY area, and for past 2 I have visited Cornell Medical University’s department of Biomedicine to talk about energy savings in their data center.

Why would I make a point of visiting this department during my vacation holiday.

This facility is one of the only places I know of that turns off servers when they are not needed. For IT Pros they do the equivalent of turning off the lights when they leave the office this holiday weekend. Think about how many servers are running these next 4 days from Thurs – Sun with no load on them. Would anyone notice if they were turned off?

The amazing thing is the Biomedicine department has been turning off their servers in a high performance compute cluster for the past 6 months and the users don’t notice a change in service, because they turn off and on the compute nodes in response to the job queue. There aren’t going to be that many research scientist submitting jobs on Thanksgiving day. And, as each compute job is completed and sits idle, there is an automated system that turns off the servers. When new compute resources are required as new jobs are submitted on Monday, the machines are turned back on.

To put this in #’s there are 100 servers in the compute node which each consume as much power as six 60 watt light bulbs, and when idle drop to consuming three 60 watt light bulbs of electricity. So, if this weekend they can turn off half the machines, they’ll save one hundred fifty 60 watt light bulbs of electricity. This project is implemented by Jason Banfelder, Vanessa Borcherding, and Luis Gracia at Cornell Weill Medical University, and this team can tell their parents this holiday weekend that yes we did turn off the lights in the office when we left the office.  Actually, when they left the servers were probably at 100% utilization, and as jobs completed idling servers, they were turned off.

Happy Thanksgiving.

In the future, I'll add a posting with Jason's team to describe how they turn on and off their servers.