Green Grid Powers Up to Save Energy

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

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 center 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 and 10 other companies are founding members of The Green Grid and have representatives serving 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 center 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 website. Already, about 1,200 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 center operations, and 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 gasoline. The technology and strategy group looks at alternatives to the gasoline 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 gas mileage those cars would get and puts that information on the window sticker.

As it relates to data center operations, establishing measurements and metrics for energy efficiency will guide center 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 US$5,000 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 $25,000, 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.

-Robert Mullins, IDG News Service (San Francisco Bureau)

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