green storage

Green storage is the practice of using a variety of "clean energy" storage methods and products to cut down on a data center's carbon footprint, as well as cost.

With green storage, the goal goes beyond being environmentally friendly. Other benefits include lower costs, preserving energy and improving efficiency.

There are a number of systems that can be used for green storage, and by analyzing your data center and specific needs, you can choose a combination of solutions that work for your environment:

  • Tape is a popular method of green storage that is widely used. Tape has no moving parts that use up energy, is portable and has a longer shelf-life than other storage technology.
  • Virtualized servers can host up to 20 virtualized servers on one physical server. This improves efficiency and cuts down on the need for expensive hardware.
  • Not as widely used, but growing in popularity, are solid-state drives (SSDs), which are energy efficient and faster than mechanical hard disk drives. However, SSDs come at a higher cost than other methods.
  • A massive array of idle disks (Maid) system only spins active drives, cutting down on energy use and prolonging shelf-life. This architecture has been around for a while but hasn’t widely caught on largely because of performance limitations caused by making disks inactive.

There are other strategies you can use to make green storage a practice, such as deleting any unwanted or unnecessary data. Worried about the cost of SSDs? Store less vital data on tape and use SSDs for mission-critical data only or for data that needs to be accessed frequently.

Before taking action, analyze your specific needs, since there is no single "correct" formula for green storage. By using the above techniques and systems, data centers can become more energy efficient, reduce their carbon footprint by using less electricity, and save money on pricey hardware and maintenance costs.

This was last updated in October 2014

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