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Tuesday
May272008

No special Demand-Response plan for the data center

I was part of a round-table on Demand-Response in data centers last week. Demand-Response is the strategy used by the power companies to trim peak load, the load that degrades into brown outs on a hot summer day. Demand-Response can include options from forward agreements to get a better price to live bidding to give up power, depending on the regulatory and market environment.

Missing from much of the discussion it was any real focus on marshalling and allocating all the resources available to solve business problems. As a government employee, I felt right at home: cost, cost, cost, when the discussion should have been value, value, value.

Modern management practices in the data center are concerned with optimizing the conversion of compute cycles into raw business process. In the world of blades and virtual machines (VM), concerns with servers are replaced with business process throughput, and trading schedules to improve service levels.

Concomitant with this is the most efficient direct conversion of electricity to heat ever devised. Heat disposal becomes paramount. Support infrastructure, whether additional cooling capacity or electrical capacity is rarely managed at all. Corporate resources are thrown away because excess energy is treated as a waste stream.

The best data center management is always trading off business resources to meet business service level agreements (SLAs). If transactions through the middle tier supporting sales transaction take longer than, say, three seconds, customer will begin to abandon transactions. Using blade servers, a new VM is quickly provisioned to supply the needed compute power. If there is no payroll this week, transactions supporting human resources can be delayed, a VM shutdown, and a new VM provisioned for sales transactions. The modern data center is managed for business process delivery, not for computation.

Under this model, Demand-Response is simply a new business cost, a new service trade-off. Demand-Response is simply a further management of the same business process in the same way as everything else. Based upon cost, some business processes are slowed down, or even transferred to another data center in another part of the grid.

I guess what I am arguing is that if you manage your data center properly, Demand-Response is just another business event, and not a unique one. Oh, and make sure your back-up data center is on a different grid.

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Reader Comments (1)

Great post! I wish more people were aware of how important demand response programs really are.

May 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

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