Dear Mr. Hurd: Power and Cooling Has Sparked a Debate; Customers Want More Than Hot Air!

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HP is busy promoting the company’s “energy efficient” products, prompting customers to ask about our current generation of efficient solutions and plans for the future.  You may remember HP announced their “Dynamic Smart Cooling” product last November, but unfortunately, I can’t tell you if it’s “Dynamic” or “Smart” because the product isn’t slated to be released until later this year.

Power and cooling are critical for customers to achieve their goal of taking maintenance to 30% of the IT budget and innovation to 70%, a topic we discussed in a previous post.  Therefore, in an attempt to fully understand HP’s “Dynamic Smart Cooling” plans, I took a second to check out this HP promotional video.  The interviewees advocate that customers look at their data centers as a holistic “environment,” an idea I wholeheartedly agree with.  However, HP’s Paul Perez really caught my attention when he said:

“Up until now, in the IT industry, people have thought of servers as building blocks, and what is happening today, especially in the enterprise space, is that the building blocks are the data centers.  We figured out if we can make the data center efficient, then by definition, we’re making the servers inside that data center efficient.  We’re making the facilities equipment efficient as well.  So we’ve taken a very holistic approach that is end-to-end.” 

The differences between the Dell and HP power and cooling approaches are in the details in how we address that holistic “environment.”  Those differences are subtle but important-and, they’re what customers are looking to understand.

HP’s power and cooling strategy is anchored around “Dynamic Smart Cooling.”  It’s a system that looks to “reengineer the atmosphere” of the data center environment by dynamically controlling the output of computer room air conditioners (CRAC).  What HP won’t tell you is “Dynamic Smart Cooling” is a complex, proprietary architecture that looks to lock-in customers and create IT complexity-a concept foreign to CIOs’ and IT managers’ goal of 30/70.  The “Dynamic Smart Cooling” strategy misses the boat by failing to look at the consumers of energy and sources of heat in the data center environment.

The three largest consumers of power in today’s data center are 1) servers, 2) the overhead required to deliver power to those servers and other devices, and 3) the cooling systems used to cool the heat created from that power consumption.  “Dynamic Smart Cooling” proposes that customers look to address “data center warming” by reengineering the atmosphere of the data center environment instead of looking at the root cause.  The HP strategy fails to drive efficiencies where the power is being drawn, and the heat is being created.  By reducing the amount of power consumed by servers as well as other devices, customers require less consumption, less power delivery overhead and less power required to cool the environment.  It’s a simple trickle-down effect that HP missed last week, has missed this week and will probably miss again later this year.  I wonder what Al Gore would think.       

The holistic approach I subscribe to is anchored in the technology that causes heat and requires cooling: the server.  So why doesn’t HP’s “holistic” approach do the same?  A quick look at the numbers will tell the story.

  • Dell’s PowerEdge 2970 consumes 12% less power than HP’s DL385 G2.

  • HP’s c-Class BladeServer consumes 24% more power than Dell’s PowerEdge 1955.  This advantage was confirmed in a comparative test outlining additional results, many of which I included in my last post.

  • Dell’s industry first PowerEdge Energy Smart 1950, 2950, and 2970 increase this lead even further with up to 24% power savings when compared to HP’s closest configuration.

  • In terms of cost savings, particularly in environments with 500 or more servers, this can equate to hundreds of dollars/server/year and a more efficient use of existing data center space. 

Bottom line: Dell servers or “building blocks” consume less power than HP’s and we’ll be extending this lead later in the year with the most power efficient rack and blade servers in the industry (which I briefly mentioned in my last post).   

Our holistic “datacenter environment” approach is simple.  It’s anchored in the devices that must be powered and cooled, not in a complex, futuristic atmosphere reengineering technology with a catchy name.  While our definitions of “holistic” are different, Mr. Hurd, at least we can agree that customers must look at their entire data center when evaluating the best way to power and cool their environment.  In a following post, we’ll discuss additional aspects of our holistic approach that helps customers reach their 30/70 goals today, not tomorrow. 

Over at HP’s BladeWonk blog, Jason Newton had mentioned that Gary Thome is on vacation this week.  I’ll weigh into the conversation there. Hopefully, Gary and I can pick up the discussion when he returns.

As always, feel free to comment on this post, head over to IdeaStorm to share your thoughts or blog about it on your own and tag it “Dell30/70” so we can find you and keep the conversation going.

About the Author: Glenn Keels

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