SNIA releases 'green storage' metrics

By Kevin Komiega

 -- The Storage Networking Industry Association's (SNIA) Green Storage Initiative (GSI) group today released the first tools for classifying and measuring the energy consumption of storage systems.

The initial Green Storage Power Measurement Specification consists of two components – a Green Storage Taxonomy and the Idle Power Measurement Metric – both of which have been developed to provide classification and measurement guidelines for standards organizations, governmental agencies, storage vendors, and end users.

The Green Storage Taxonomy is used to classify storage products based on energy consumption characteristics and application environments, while the Idle Power Measurement Metric serves as a baseline standard that can be applied as a uniform method for collecting idle power consumption measurements.

Al Thomason, vice chair of the SNIA's GSI and system storage portfolio manager with IBM, says the taxonomy was designed to ensure apples-to-apples comparisons between storage devices.

"We have put a tremendous amount of effort into creating the storage taxonomy with a focus on system characteristics and usage segments, rather than technologies," says Thomason. "It allows direct comparisons. We want to make sure that these tools are useful and not used for the purpose of green-washing technologies."

The Green Storage Taxonomy groups storage devices based on feature criteria for the application environments that they are intended to support. The SNIA has categorized those environments into five classes of storage products, ranging from small home/office applications (SOHO) to large enterprise–oriented applications.

The storage system categories covered under the Green Storage Taxonomy are: online, near-online, removable media libraries, non-removable media libraries, infrastructure appliances, and infrastructure switches.

The feature criteria for each storage system class are based on the required level of data protection, component redundancy, serviceability, data access time, and range of energy consumption.

Once a device is classified, the Idle Power Measurement specification can be used to test energy efficiency. The specification, which is currently available for public review and comment, outlines a standard for testing and measuring storage power consumption in idle mode. The idle power measurements are reported in raw GB per watt (GB/w) based on manufacturer model number, raw storage capacity, storage media rpm, and interface.

According to recent SNIA research, servers, networks and storage systems draw about 46% of all data center power. Thomason says storage accounts for about 13% of overall power consumption. That percentage is sure to rise with the need for more storage capacity to accommodate data growth.

Members of the SNIA's GSI include 3PAR, AMD, Brocade, Copan, Dell, EMC, Emulex, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, Intransa, LSI, Microsoft, NetApp, Pillar Data Systems, QLogic, Quantum, Seagate, Sun, Symantec, VMware, XIOtech, Xyratex, and other companies and industry analysts.

The SNIA is also working with several groups and industry associations to make IT greener, most notably The Green Grid and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program.

There is still much work to be done. Thomason and the GSI have mapped out their plans for 2009 and the next items on the agenda are the development of active power measurement guidelines and metrics, standardized power supply efficiency specifications, and publication of each vendor's completed test metrics.

The group also plans to add power-related reporting capabilities to the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S) profile.

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This article was originally published on January 21, 2009