Despite the fact that servers and communications equipment are notoriously more power consumptive than storage devices, storage vendors are increasingly going to hammer away with messages about environmentals and attempt to leverage this issue for competitive advantage. EMC threw down the gauntlet late last year by being one of the first to feature this issue with new energy assessment services and a power calculator that allows customers to estimate energy consumption and cooling requirements for EMC products. This clever marketing approach is like a souped-up version of a famous opening line used by Xerox copier salesmen in the 1970's and 80's, namely, "where are you going to put it?"
By aggressively qualifying and implementing super high capacity disk drives, companies will claim substantial power improvements on a per terabyte basis relative to previous generations of subsystems (without making any substantive engineering redesigns) and capitalize on the fact that spinning disks account for over 50% of power consumption for storage systems. Companies will also tout better utilization and consequently lower power consumption by delivering virtualization, storage consolidation and tiered storage management as immediate-term solutions. Longer term, vendors will increasingly have to account for the cost of environmentals as part of system design.
Action Item: In the near term, vendors should use marketing leverage and proven consolidation approaches including virtualization, tiered storage and ultra-high capacity disk drives to claim power leadership. Services that transcend storage and account for other data center equipment including servers and networking gear should also come into play. Longer term, vendors must more diligently architect improved environmentals into subsystem design or be faced with a sore spot in head-to-head marketing clashes.