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Green Grid pitches new IT energy standard

The group of IT industry leaders recommends data center evaluations include a score for power usage effectiveness or PUE scalability.

The Green Grid, a group of IT industry leaders including heavyweights like AMD and Hewlett-Packard, unveiled a new standard for measuring data center efficiency at the second annual Green Grid Technical Forum in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday.

The white papers released by the consortium have been advising companies on how to properly measure, quantify, analyze and report on PUE (power usage effectiveness) and DCiE (data center infrastructure efficiency) since 2007.

Click on the image to take a tour of an existing California data center designed for efficiency. Elsa Wenzel, CNET

"At the 2009 Technical Forum, attendees will walk away with actionable information to help measure energy consumption and significantly improve energy cost savings," Larry Vertal, director of the Green Grid and senior strategist at AMD, said in a statement.

The Green Grid's white paper released Wednesday adds a new metric for IT folks to think about.

It's called PUE Scalability.

"However, to better assess how well a facility's infrastructure handles the dynamic changes in IT power loads, a data center needs to understand how well its total energy consumption scales with changes in IT power load," said the white paper, whose contributors include employees from HP, Dell, and Emerson Network Power.

The paper suggests through sample scenarios and formulas that it's not enough to look at long-term facility assessments, but that managers need to evaluate how their infrastructure deals with fluctuations in IT equipment power loads throughout a given day in order to make them more efficient.

For that, the group recommends measuring something it calls PUE Scalability, a formula which includes tracking a data center's energy consumption roughly every 15 minutes to evaluate its responses to fluctuations in usage.

It further recommends the use of "meters, monitors and analysis tools" that can evaluate power usage and response to loads in real-time.

The new paper is a follow-up to the Green Grid's February 2007 proposal in which the organization introduced the idea of using the PUE and DCiE (originally called DCE) system to compare the efficiencies of data centers, as well as suggesting some efficiency-oriented best practices.

This latest suggestion from the Green Grid is not revolutionary.

Companies like Sentilla have already begun to offer hardware and software tools for real-time data center energy consumption evaluations. But with a significant group like the Green Grid behind the practice, data center managers may now take more interest in those types of products.