Sure, Facebook, Google, Yahoo and other Internet giants can build their own super-efficient data centers, but what are the rest of us to do? The vast majority of data center operations don’t even know how much power they’re using per server, let alone how to optimize its use.
Enter startups like Power Assure, which has announced an interesting project with application delivery optimization company A10 Networks that helps illustrate the step-by-step methods needed to squeeze more capacity and efficiency out of the data center environments that most of us work with today.
Santa Clara, Calif.-based Power Assure is tackling a wide set of data center power challenges, including automating data center power management, establishing standards for measuring server power use across multiple use cases and balancing data center loads across entire regions.
But its project with A10, a maker of software and hardware that helps its customers optimize application delivery, was tackling a more prosaic challenge — how to help a fast-growing company manage a homegrown data center that had outstripped the building’s ability to power it.
A10 doesn’t run massive data centers delivering up huge Internet applications for the world, Todd Kleppe, senior director of worldwide operations, told me in an interview last week. Rather, it runs a lab full of servers that are constantly testing its software’s ability to automate the Web-serving capabilities of its customers, he said.
Those labs are modular, constantly switching servers in and out in a variety of test configurations, which makes it hard to settle on a standard efficiency approach, he said. At the same time, they’re running “insane amounts” of computing load to replicate customer environments, he said — “we need to generate an enormous volume of traffic just to make our devices sweat,” he said.