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A couple of weeks ago I returned from an energizing two days at The Green Grid (TGG) Forum 2013. TGG Forum is a yearly event for TGG members and non-members to network and learn about the latest projects that The Green Grid membership is working on. This year, I was honored and excited to present the second day morning keynote on “Engaging the Missing Link in IT Resource Efficiency” – namely, developers! This is a relatively new focus for the Green Grid, and it was encouraging to see the enthusiasm this topic generated.
A key take away from my keynote was that data centers should be both highly efficient and highly utilized. While we want to make sure data centers are using energy efficiently (think low overhead as measured by PUE), in fact the world would be better off if data centers used more energy through higher utilization of the equipment. The environmental and financial savings come down the road from reducing the future need for as many data centers to support the massive amount of growth in demand for compute cycles and storage capacity.
After my keynote, I moderated an interactive discussion with the membership on improving private cloud utilization, with help from experts from EMC and Verizon. This was immediately followed by another interactive discussion on utilization measurement methodologies, moderated by myself and fellow TGG board member John Pflueger from Dell.
From the conversations I had over the two days, I am more convinced than ever that the only sustainable path to higher utilization is to provide effective incentives for developers to design applications to run on “fungible” infrastructure that make it exceptionally easy to acquire and give back compute and storage resources. Public cloud platforms such as Windows Azure and Amazon Web Services have proven the effectiveness of this approach for quite some time, and it would behoove any CIO to start thinking about how to emulate this dynamic on their own premises using private clouds.
My goal is for TGG to become a valuable resource in the not-too-distant future for CIOs looking for such guidance for their own data centers. Higher utilization is clearly something that won’t happen overnight. But it’s critical to have the right technology platforms, developer guidance and if a data center owner is serious about making significant improvements to the low levels of server utilization that are commonplace today.
This guidance doesn’t get developed in a vacuum by paid TGG staff. It’s a community effort by the industry and practitioners alike. If you are keen to see non-vendor specific guidance on utilization measurement methodologies and best practices for driving effective use of IT assets, I encourage you to consider joining The Green Grid and volunteering to contribute to this important effort.
I’ll leave you with the results of the three polls I conducted during my keynote. While there were only about 44 responses for each poll, these results are actually more encouraging than I would have expected—with utilization reporting the most cited method to drive effective use of data center resources—but perhaps that’s to be expected that TGG members are further along this path than the rest of the industry.
See you at TGG Forum 2014!