According to studies by the University of California four years ago, the world’s IT servers were already processing nearly 10 zettabytes of information – equivalent to 12 gigabytes of information per day for each of the approximately 3.2 billion workers in the then world’s labour force. So what would the figure be now?
In the following year (2009), a report in the UK by the Department for Energy and Climate Change, stated that IT data centres accounted for three per cent of all electricity use in the UK. A first reaction may be "it’s only three per cent", but it represents nearly five mega tonnes of CO2 and is expected to double by 2020.
In May 2010, a further article in Money Week
, reported that the US Environmental Protection Agency estimated that data centres were using more than 61 billion kilowatts of electricity at a cost of $4.5 billion per annum and was increasing at double-digit annual rates. The article also quoted McKinsey as stating "by 2020 the world’s data centres could create more greenhouse gas pollution than airlines."
Such reports appear to imply that IT data centres, with the ever increasing growth in data volumes, are destined to be on an ever increasing growth path in their CO2 emissions? However, maybe not if new developments in greener IT solutions and associated IT support services arrive sooner rather than later. Silent Cubes
Recent improvements in both products with reduced energy requirement and more efficient air con systems will help. An encouraging example is Silent Cubes, designed and manufactured in Germany by FAST LTA and available in the UK. In fact, the system requires no air conditioning.
Silent Cubes is a disk-based system, designed to provide users with the very highest possible security for long-term archive data and big cost savings.
It also offers IT management a non-proprietary, although very different solution, with which to tackle the challenge of ever increasing volumes and longer and longer data retention periods.
Long-term 'archive’ data is sometimes confused with 'back-up’ and 'recovery’ data. Also, a lot of data is often perceived to be 'mission’ and/or 'business’ critical. For these reasons it is possible that some IT centres can hold more data stored as 'active’ and only 20 per cent or less data stored as 'archive’ data, when in reality the opposite may be the case (i.e. 20 per cent is 'active’ and 80 per cent 'archive’ data).
According to FAST LTA, typically once true archive data has been stored the average access rate is only four per cent.
This low average access rate would therefore also appear to imply that primary SAN and RAID server systems in some, or even many data centres, may be constantly 'spinning’ large volumes of non-current data unnecessarily.
There are four main areas in which the different Silent Cubes system can deliver cost savings for IT management:
• Savings in the basic cost per Terabyte of storage
• Savings of approx 80 per cent to 90 per cent in energy usage ( and associated carbon footprint)
• Savings resulting from the 'freeing-up’ existing primary SAN and RAID storage that is only currently accessed very infrequently if at all
• Savings from reduced operational 'back-up’ and 'restore’ times associated with the use of smaller primary SAN and/or RAID storage.
The Silent Cubes system is a complete archiving solution that is fast to install (typically less than one day) and integrates seamlessly with users existing architecture and applications via a simple network share connection. All systems have a Head Unit (NAS), with cache, and which is the interface with users existing networks. Optionally, a VMware® Head Unit is available for operation within large virtual server environments. Additionally, at no extra cost, both options have the facility for asynchronous replication to a second location, to protect user’s data against fire, water damage or sabotage.
Unlike conventional hard-disk drives, which cannot fully exclude all user errors, Silent Cubes’ in-built WORM Controller protects all data against deletion or overwriting at the very lowest hardware level. Each storage module has 12 disks and if one, two, three or even four disks were to fail (even four at one time) no data is lost. To protect users against epidemic disk failure, each Cube is configured with four disks from three different manufacturers.
Full protection for data against changes, deletions or overwriting is incorporated into the system’s hardware and cannot be circumvented in error or deliberately. In addition the system’s Digital Audit regularly checks all data stored within the system, bit-by-bit, enabling early error detection and rectification. The system, with its in-built quadruple redundancy coding, is more secure than a fully mirrored RAID-6 configuration, and has a far better 'gross to net’ fully useable storage ratio.
The system’s Cube storage modules were designed for both stand-alone use or within standard 19-inch rack mounts; allowing for up to 576 TB and the system is scalable to multiple peta bytes.
Silent Cubes is also certified as CAS - Content Addressed Storage - for revision-safe storage.
The very low energy usage and cost of Silent Cubes is the ultimate is a key feature. In standby mode, each storage Cube draws less than two watts and only 125 watts when writing or retrieving data. Therefore no air-conditioning is required, making the system’s power requirements lower than any other solution. Even a full rack-mount configuration will draw less than 100 watts in standby mode – i.e. equivalent to just one light-bulb!