4 Customers, 4 Points - Trendpoint Launches Green Data Center plan, Sharing Best Practices

Trendpoint Systems has a press release announcing their new Four Point Plan for Green Data Centers.


Data centers, projected to be world’s biggest source of greenhouse gas pollution, face tough regulations and carbon taxes for “energy offenders”

San Ramon, CA, August , 2008 –Trendpoint Systems, a leader in data center energy management solutions, today announced a four-point plan aimed at dramatically reducing energy costs and carbon emissions at data centers. A recent study by McKinsey & Co. predicted that data centers will surpass the airline industry as the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 and called for data centers to double their energy efficiency by 2012. Trendpoint projects that by implementing only a part of its plan -- focused on managing cooling costs -- data centers can reduce energy costs by a third or more.

The four point plan from Trendpoint provides a comprehensive approach for measuring, monitoring and managing energy use at data centers in order to help companies tackle this urgent problem. The plan will also enable companies to set and manage an energy budget that will allow them to comply with proposed regulations on energy use and emissions, such as those slated for enforcement in California by 2010. The state will be the first in the U.S. to follow the lead of the U.K. and other European countries in establishing “cap and trade” regulations that will impose limits on energy use at data centers and other businesses, imposing a hefty “carbon tax” for those that do not comply. Businesses that do comply will be able to trade their energy savings on the open market in an “energy exchange.”

I had a chance to interview CEO Bob Hunter to understand his product and get a better background on how Trendpoint developed its four point plan. What I found as a basis for their ideas were four showcase customers who were key in developing the plan. The four customers are VMware (NYSE: VMW), Facebook, Carillion IT Services (EDS), and Rosendin Electric.

Proof of how well the Four Point Plan works references an EDS Data center implementation.

EDS saves 25% of cooling energy costs, ROI in less than one year

Trendpoint is already proving the effectiveness of its plan and energy management products at some of the world’s largest data center “brands.” In a study done at an EDS data center in Newcastle, U.K. (conducted by site management firm, Carillion, PLC) the facility was able to cut cooling energy costs by 25% simply by using the Trendpoint energy management solution to target cooling resources to match the heat generated by servers. Hunter believes that even more savings could be realized by implementing the complete Trendpoint Four Point Plan. The Carillion study also reported an ROI of less than one year for the Trendpoint solution at the EDS facility. According to Carillion, the Trendpoint solution will be extended to a second site in the U.K, and to sites throughout the U.K. and Western Europe over the next 2-3 years.

Here are the Four Points. Keep this in mind when you think about your Green IT projects.

Set an energy budget – In the same way that companies set and manage travel budgets, data centers need to be able to set energy and carbon budgets that can be broken down along established parameters such as department, site, etc., all the way down to the circuit level. Employees accountable for those budgets need the ability to view and manage their individual budget segments securely, against assigned metrics. Co-location facilities, in particular, need to be able to access and manage their own energy and carbon budgets so that they can bill back to customers appropriately.

Virtualize servers -- Companies can reap instant savings by consolidating underutilized physical data servers onto “virtual machines” that act like physical computers, but don’t require the space, management time or energy of individual servers. But Trendpoint cautions against virtualizing without proper cooling management since virtualized servers generate enormous heat. Without proper cooling, they will develop “server thermal inversions.” Just as smog recycles and builds up in an atmospheric thermal inversion, a server can develop an inversion that causes cool air to be trapped and recycled, wasting cooling resources. “Server thermal inversion” will not only eat up all of the energy savings in increased cooling costs, but is a leading cause of costly downtime in a data center.

Equalize heat and cooling balance – Data centers waste enormous amounts of energy by overcooling the majority of their data cabinets. This is because they make macro-cooling decisions based on the heat generated by their hottest cabinets. By matching cooling resources (from floor vents or liquid cooling units) to the actual needs of each individual cabinet, data centers can realize significant savings on energy use. In addition, further savings can be achieved by balancing heat loads on an intra-cabinet basis. By grouping servers in a minimum of 2 and preferably 3 zones within a cabinet and moving towards equalized heat loads between the zones -- thereby avoiding “server thermal inversion” -- users will reap additional cooling savings of 10-30%.

Manage to the metrics – As data centers add, move, and change servers, many on a daily basis, they need to continue to monitor and manage heat generation and cooling requirements. Trendpoint provides the only solution for managing energy usage of data centers over the long term to achieve maximum energy efficiency. The Trendpoint solution also enables companies to manage their carbon and energy budgets in order to comply with corporate mandates for energy conservation and fast-approaching regulations on energy use and emissions.

Trendpoint is one of the few products that ships a hardware monitoring solution along with a monitoring server. They have found most customers prefer to have a turnkey solution with complete hardware and software.

For a more technical discussion on the merits of Trendpoints monitoring technology here is their white paper.

The measurement of true heat and energy values in data centers is vital to improving energy efficiency. True heat values are only expressed in RMS watts. Its accumulated value, kWh forms the basis for all energy billing as well as carbon to kWh comparisons. First-generation monitoring devices employed average amperage and/or average wattage data. Average wattage is a highly inaccurate measurement and cannot be relied on to provide actual heat values or billing kWh. True RMS wattage and kWh units that measure directly at the circuit-breaker have become affordable and form the basis for quality information gathering in data centers.