How SMBs can save on disk array power costs

Disk arrays draw substantial power to keep disks spinning and make cooling systems work harder to dissipate the heat they throw off. Here are seven ways to cut a disk system's power requirements in an SMB environment.

As one of the few mechanical devices in the data center, disk arrays draw substantial power to keep disks spinning and make cooling systems work harder to dissipate the heat they throw off. While disk drive systems use more power than just about any other data center gear, storage vendors are addressing this problem with a variety of technologies. Here are seven ways to cut a disk system's power requirements in an SMB environment:

  • Thin provisioning. Because thin provisioning ensures that applications only consume the capacity they truly need, you don't end up with a lot of spinning, nearly empty disks.
  • Spin down. In arrays used for secondary applications or those that use disk intermittently, drives can be slowed down or stopped when not in use.
  • Solid-state drives. Solid-state drives (SSDs) use a fraction of the power required by magnetic-media disks and produce far less heat, but the power savings may be offset by the cost of SSDs.
  • Big disks. By using higher capacity disks (especially 1 TB, 1.5 TB or 2 TB drives) you can store more data using fewer disks.
  • Small form factor disks. For apps that require more performance than what SATA delivers, 2.5-inch SAS drives use up to 50% less power than 3.5-inch high-performance drives.
  • Data deduplication. Store less and you'll need fewer disks, and thus save on power. Dedupe is one of the most effective ways to cut capacity.
  • Storage virtualization. Like thin provisioning, storage virtualization helps you make better use of the storage you already have installed. So while you may not cut your power bill, you can keep it from rising.

Some vendors aren't sure to what extent the demand for energy efficiency will impact their storage products. However, most are sure that products aimed at conserving power will continue to gain momentum. SMBs should look for disk technologies that conserve power, and ultimately sustain business growth, economic enhancement and productivity.

This material originally appeared in Storage magazine.

Matt Perkins is an assistant editor for TechTarget's Enterprise Applications Media Group.


This was first published in May 2009

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