By Randy Egger, Data Center Lead, NetApp IT
One of the biggest trade-offs in any data center is power and capacity, the two biggest expenses of any data center. The golden rule is that these two costs increase together—the more racks of hardware you have, the more power you need to run it. This means when you need more capacity, you need more power, which could result in a cooling issue. If you have enough cooling and power, you could run out of rack capacity.
NetApp IT was able to address the power and cooling costs in a multitude of ways. We started by making changes to the facility itself. We installed non-traditional raised floors. We introduced overhead cooling, economization, and cold aisle containment over six years ago. These changes have helped control our power and cooling costs.
Changing Relationship between Power and Capacity
A NetApp IT data center operation analysis compiled over the past decade shows that the relationship between power and capacity is evolving due to other factors as well. We are seeing that while our compute and storage capabilities are increasing, our power costs have been actually dropping. This shift is due to several reasons: the availability of the cloud, smaller form factors offering more horsepower, and virtualization, among others.
The chart illustrates this point. Our power requirements peaked in mid-2011 when we opened a new NetApp production data center, the Hillsboro Data Center (HDC). As we moved operations into HDC and closed other data centers, power consumption dropped while storage and compute increased significantly. Since then we’ve seen this trend continuing.
The following factors are contributing to this change:
Our analysis shows that the relationship between storage/compute capacity to deliver applications and power will continue, even as we begin to take advantage of the hybrid cloud. Instead of building arrays to meet peak workloads--which translates to idle capacity--we will be able to take advantage of the cloud’s elasticity. This, in turn, will reduce operational, licensing, and management costs in the data center and we’ve seen a reduction in capex spend as well.
Adopting a hardware lifecycle management strategy is a key factor in reducing power consumption and improve capacity management. In our HDC migration, we were able to decommission 96 of 163 systems and 40 filers (of 2 PB of storage); more than 1,000 servers were either migrated or decommissioned. The configuration management database (CMDB), NetApp IT’s single source of truth for everything in IT operations, also plays a major role in helping us track, manage, and analyze power and capacity over time.
Every data center environment is different. Each company faces its own challenges in controlling its power consumption costs while maximizing its storage and compute. However, as we have seen, adopting a hardware lifecycle management strategy and leveraging innovations in technology and power design can make a significant difference in your data center costs.
The NetApp-on-NetApp blog series features advice from subject matter experts from NetApp IT who share their real-world experiences using NetApp’s industry-leading storage solutions to support business goals. Want to view learn more about the program? Visit www.NetAppIT.com.