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Cassatt power management software turns off idle servers

Mark Fontecchio

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For more on power management:
Microsoft details Windows Server 2008 power management features

HP server management software tracks power usage    
San Jose, Calif.-based Cassatt Corp. today announced a technology that allows data center managers to power up and power down servers according to scheduled demand.

Cassatt's Active Power Management enables IT administrators to set policies, depending on workload, for which servers and applications are crucial at what times. It then turns off servers when they're idle and powers them back up when they're needed again.

The beauty of it is that it links shutdowns with business priorities.
Tom Buiocchi,
head of Brocade Communications Systems Inc.'s green initiative

Per server, shutting down idle servers can save an organization real money. Considering variables such as how much power a server consumes when active and idle, energy rates, and how efficient your chiller is, you could save about $300 a year per server in energy costs, according to a Cassatt cost calculator.

Expected to be generally available later this year, the software can also communicate with local utility companies when there is an energy shortage to determine which servers should shut off first. The Cassatt product will be independent and capable of working with IT hardware, software and facility equipment, such as power distribution units.

Much ado about idle servers
The topic of idle servers has been popular of late. A recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report on data center power consumption concluded that one of the easiest ways for data centers to reduce their energy draw is by shutting down idle servers or putting them into sleep mode.

But simply shutting down servers is easier said than done.

"There are those servers that are comatose; they're consuming energy but not performing a useful function anymore," said Andrew Fanara, who heads product development at the Energy Star program, which authored the report. "But there is reluctance to shut them off."

That reluctance stems from the fact that IT workers rarely get recognition for saving money by shutting off servers or putting them in sleep mode, but they will receive the reprimand if an application isn't available when it needs to be.

Cassatt's Active Power Management takes the reins, responsibility, burden -- however you want to think about it -- away from IT workers and into its own hands.

"This Cassatt thing is the real deal," said Ray Pfeifer, project lead for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group's energy-efficient data center demonstration project. "The potential impact could be applied across any data center: the ability to power-manage and essentially shut down servers that are idling or not needed. We think it's a definite market opportunity."

Green computing partners
Cassatt is also working with Pacific Gas and Electric, the West Coast utility company, and with early customers. One of the early testers of the technology is Brocade Communications Systems Inc., the storage networking company, which installed Active Power Management on 40 servers in its San Jose, Calif., data center. The servers are designated for a Brocade engineering lab running network simulations.

Though it's still too early to report results -- the company installed the technology about two weeks ago -- Brocade's lead on the company's green initiative, Tom Buiocchi, said things look hopeful.

"You do get spots where some servers are cranking all the time and some are not," he said. "It's a great environment for Cassatt's product. If we're smart about it, we can save some money there. The beauty of it is that it links shutdowns with business priorities. It's a very intelligent off-on switch. No one is manually shutting them off."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Mark Fontecchio, News Writer.


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