IT Innovators: Should Energy Efficiency Keep You From the SDDC?

IT Innovators: Should Energy Efficiency Keep You From the SDDC?

A recent market forecast from Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence (KSI) predicts that the software defined data center (SDDC) market with grow to an estimated $81.381 billion by the end of 2021. It’s easy to understand why. The SDDC is one in which all infrastructure is virtualized and delivered as-a-service. The solution is cost-effective, easily scalable and flexible, and simplifies data center management. It can be implemented on any hardware and has multi-tenancy support. Moreover, it allows data centers to seamlessly scale up their infrastructure, while ensuring resource management and unification of networking and server storage is simplified.

That’s not to say that there aren’t any challenges ahead for the SDDC; there are. One critical challenge is energy efficiency—a timely topic given the high cost of power these days.

At issue is the fact that while SDDC is by definition “software defined,” that doesn’t mean it does away with all of the physical infrastructure of the data center, and in particular, power and cooling. At the end of the day, whether the data center is software defined or not, it still runs on electricity. And, if it isn’t using that electricity optimally it will eventually become unsustainable.

The good news here is that there are ways to maximize SDDC energy efficiency, without jeopardizing its performance. At the most basic level, for example, power management software can be employed. Recall that a SDDC comprises a software defined network (SDN), software defined storage and software defined compute. When a SDN is utilized, power management software can be used to ensure all IT operations have been fully integrated with the power grid. It also enables the IT team to move workloads between components without having to worry about the electricity supply, or move workloads to other data centers where energy cost might be lower.

Allowing power and cooling capacity to be provisioned based on individual application needs is another way to increase energy efficiency. Doing so optimizes the power and cooling utilization and in turn, lowers power consumption. Optimizing server utilization can also help lower SDDC power consumption.

Another potential solution is to use software-defined power. For those unfamiliar with this concept, Clemens Pfeiffer, CTO, Power Assure, defines it in an article for Data Center Dynamics as a process that involves “adjusting server capacity to accommodate workloads and indirectly manage the power consumed.”

As Pfeiffer explains, while the SDDC has abstracted servers, storage and networking, it hasn’t addressed the relationship between applications and power. That’s where software defined power comes in; it addresses this relationship head on by allowing IT teams to dynamically change the amount of power consumed by IT gear plugged into an outlet. The workload is simply by shifted from one data center to another. It also provides power grid integration that intelligently determines the most reliable configuration for the SDDC at any given time. (More information on how software defined power works and what it can do for the SDDC is available in the article, Data Center Power Can Be Software Defined Too.)

One other way to help maximize the SDDC’s energy efficiency is to have an energy efficiency assessment performed. The assessment is performed by a reputable data center consultant who calculates the SDDC’s power usage effectiveness (PUE) and data center infrastructure efficiency (DCiE) ratios. These ratios are then compared against industry standards to determine the SDDC’s energy efficiency and identify areas of improvement. Using this information, IT teams can better determine how to improve their SDDC energy efficiency and in turn, realize significant cost savings.

Clearly, these are only just a few of things that can be done to ensure your SDDC is energy efficient. The bottom line here is that IT professionals don’t have to be afraid of power consumption in the SDDC, as it is one challenge that can be addressed today in any number of ways. If you have migrated to an SDDC and have implemented any of these solutions, drop me a line at [email protected] and let me know how they’ve worked out for you. In the meantime, check back here for future blog posts on a range of IT-related issues.

This blog is sponsored by Microsoft.

Cheryl J. Ajluni is a freelance writer and editor based in California. She is the former Editor-in-Chief of Wireless Systems Design and served as the EDA/Advanced Technology editor for Electronic Design for over 10 years. She is also a published book author and patented engineer. Her work regularly appears in print and online publications. Contact her at [email protected] with your comments or story ideas.

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