How Green Technology from Sun and 3PAR helped UCSB avoid a power crisis.

From my post on my personal blog:

Let me preface this by saying that I have been a 3PAR evangelist since I first laid hands on the unit. It has been a love affair that I carry to this day. I am a person who loves excellent engineering, and as such, 3PAR really shines in my portfolio of IT solutions. I have also been a long time fan of Sun Microsystems. The SPARC platform has been rock solid as has Solaris, and x86 line of hardware follows suit. I read an article recently from CIO Magazine explaining how the University of California Santa Barbara narrowly averted a power crisis by virtualizing their infrastructure and using green IT products. I'll like the article at the end of the post, but for those who just want the meat and potatoes, read on.

Apparently, UCSB had built up their infrastructure to consume 67 kVA and the local PG&E utility power plant could only put out 75 kVA. They estimated that their power consumption would exceed the capacity in 6 months. After an assessment of infrastructure utilization, they realized that they were using only 6 percent of server capacity and 10 to 15 percent of storage.Those, by the way, are poor numbers.

Virtualization is sure fit in this scenario. You can easily stack 15 to 16 virtual servers on a single physical server and reach close to 100 percent utilization. Do this multiple times over with say 100 physical to virtual machine (P2V) conversions, and you just dropped your server count dramatically. Centralize and scale your storage, and you can do the same. This is 3PAR's main forte. They offer highly scalable tiered storage that can be thin-provisioned. You can also optimize data layout on the fly. What does all of this amount to?

UCSB ended up going with 3 Sun X4600 servers to virtualize up to 100 physical machines. This was done on VMware's platform. They then turned to 3PAR for an InServ storage system packed with 43 TB of storage space. This allows them to scale when they need to, rather than allotting storage space and rack space ahead of time and wasting energy and space as it slowly fills up. What a beautiful solution! It goes without saying that three power packed servers and a scalable array use far less power than the previous monolithic (read inefficient) infrastructure.

So today, UCSB runs about 75 VMs on the new platform. 17 NAS units were removed from the infrastructure along with all of the physical servers that were rendered unnecessary. That means a net reduction of about 70 physical servers after considering that the 3 X4600s consume more power than your typical 1U or 2U configuration. Imagine the power and cooling savings from 70 less servers and 17 less NAS units!

Despite the fact that I do this every day for clients, I was floored to see it happen at UCSB. I don't mean to imply anything ill about UCSB, it just surprised me in a pleasant way. I am very proud of what they did, and I hope they stand as a model for the rest of the UC system, the state of CA and the US at large. Not that they were the first of course. UCSF has had a 3PAR and virtualization in place for a while now. I should know, I was there. Congrats UCSB, you've done an awesome job! I'm sure Sun, VMware and 3PAR are also very happy as well. A win win win win situation. It doesn't get any better than that!

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