Turn Servers Off When You Don’t Need Them Part 2

I recently blogged about the fact its common in Japan to turn servers off at night, so I found it interesting that Cassatt, the data center automation vendor launched by BEA founder Bill Coleman , has just announced a power management play- claiming “customers have experienced up to 50 percent reduction in their power usage, simply by allowing Active Power Management to turn off servers when idle, and then confirm a successful power-up when they’re needed again.”

According to the release the The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported last month that data centers are consuming up to 1.5 percent of all the electricity generated in the U.S.

But Europe is actually ahead of the US in some areas of efficiency and greening. BT, a leader in the field, now looks for always available, rather than always on in its equipment purchasing. One of the strangest arguments of the last ten years came from the Washington lobbyists and politicians claiming efficiency initiatives harm the economy. I am glad this argument is being won by the other side – green power can save money whether you’re a small or large business. As this Computerworld story says vendors such as Sun and Fujitsu are now showcasing their own initiatives. It doesn’t matter whether you turn electricity off to save money or save the planet.

Why do I find the Cassatt pitch interesting? Partly because it answers a key counterpoint to “turn you server off” thinking. Thus Mike Gunderloy, in comments to my earlier blog post, asked:

Has anyone looked at the labor costs of this? I know that even on my tiny little dozen-machine network, I am reluctant to power everything off at night simply because it takes so bloody long waiting for the damn things to boot up in the morning. Seems like actual working fast-boot technologies would go a long way to sell this initiative.

IT labor costs of course will kill energy efficiency initiatives every time, if they are too high. That’s where automation software comes in. We can expect automation vendors of all stripes to pursue similar power management strategies, which is a good thing.

Power off.

picture courtesy of r3wind‘s creative commons attribution license.


  1. says

    Actaully what would be ideal is putting the servers to sleep :
    This would require very little labour to bring back up and could be automated. In order to do this server factors need to be considered :

    1) Good sleep support in software OS
    2) PSUs that really wind down on sleep
    3) A leep API to automate sleep and wake accros networks.

    Or even better don’t use servers at all, just use Amazon EC2 instances and bring them into being as required and power down when not in use.