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Green Grid Powers Up to Save Energy

Green Grid Powers Up to Save Energy

Nonprofit organization opens to promote best practices in data centre operation.

The Green Grid, a group of technology companies collaborating to improve energy efficiency in data centres, is officially open for business.

First proposed in April 2006, The Green Grid's mission is to promote the development of energy efficient processors, servers, networks and other technology and to promote best practices in data centre operation. The nonprofit organization doesn't expect to be able to reduce energy use, but to use power more efficiently as computer processing demand inevitably grows, said Mark Munroe, director of sustainable computing in Sun Microsystems' SunLabs Eco-Responsibility Group.

Sun is one of 11 companies that are founding members of The Green Grid and whose representatives serve as its board. Other member companies include Advanced Micro Devices, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, VMware and Intel.

Although the group includes vendors covering all aspects of data centre technology -- processors, servers, software and power supply management -- organizers are now inviting the most important group to join: customers.

"We need to pull end users in and get their input," said Jim Pappas, director of technology initiatives at Intel.

Starting Monday, end users can sign up to join The Green Grid at its Web site. Already, about 1200 people have signed up on the site to receive more information about the group and 49 percent of them identified themselves as end users or groups representing them.

The Green Grid will be divided into four major working groups, Pappas said: Data Collection and Analysis; Technology and Strategy; Data Centre Operations; Metrics and Measurements.

Pappas analogized the structure of the working groups to the development of a hybrid gas-electric car. The Data Collection and Analysis Group identifies the problem, such as the rising price of a barrel of oil or a gallon of petrol. The Technology and Strategy Group looks at alternatives to the petrol engine, such as electric, compressed natural gas or biodiesel. The Operations Group develops specific cars, like the Toyota Prius or the Ford Escape Hybrid. And the Metrics and Measurements Group verifies the petrol mileage those cars would get and puts that information on the window sticker.

As it relates to data centre operations, establishing measurements and metrics for energy efficiency will guide centre managers on what results to expect from investing in green technology. It will also give vendors a way to compare their technology to competitors', Pappas said.

"We need to make changes to our industry. [The Green Grid] will create markets and then companies can compete in those markets," he said.

A general membership in The Green Grid will cost $US5000 annually, which includes access to all technical documentation produced by The Green Grid, access to intellectual property licensing and other benefits. A contributing membership, for $US25,000, also includes an invitation to join technology working groups, review technology documentation at each phase of development and contribute to shaping the future direction of the group.

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