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PG&E Collaborates with IBM to Reduce Energy Consumption in the Utility’s California Data Centers by 80 Percent


IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today announced a collaborative effort to optimize energy efficiency opportunities in PG&E’s California IT operations through a server consolidation program and by jointly developing a new way to measure and reduce heat in data centers. IBM also announced today its participation in PG&E’s Energy Efficiency Incentive Program.

A world leader in energy efficiency, PG&E teamed with IBM to deploy a server consolidation and virtualization initiative with the explicit goal of reducing energy consumption in its own data center facilities spanning over 40,000 square feet of raised floor in San Francisco, Fairfield and Diablo Canyon, California.

PG&E will consolidate nearly 300 Unix servers onto 6 IBM System p servers, helping to reduce 80 percent of its energy and facilities consumption, and will use IBM virtualization technologies to boost utilization of the systems from 10 percent capacity to over 80 percent. In addition, PG&E will deploy IBM Rear Door Heat eXchanger water cooling technology on the System p servers to reduce heat in the data center by up to 60 percent.

“Energy efficiency is the number one priority for PG&E as we work with our customers to meet our environmental goals,” said Brad Whitcomb, Vice President, Customer Products & Services, PG&E. “We’re thrilled to partner with IBM to pilot energy efficiency innovations that can help our customers save money and protect the environment by further reducing their energy use.”

Before embarking on its server consolidation efforts, PG&E teamed with IBM Research to develop a tool to uniquely measure the three-dimensional temperature distributions in its data centers. With IBM’s new Mobile Measurement Technology (MMT), IBM and PG&E were able to survey the relevant physical parameters of PG&E’s data centers to visualize – via 3-D images - hot spots, air leakage and other inefficiencies. The data was then used to build customized thermal and energy models to help mitigate hot spots and rectify imbalances within the data center.

“Accelerating the adoption of energy-smart solutions requires many things: collaboration, shared innovation, and a commitment to transforming the way power is delivered, managed, and used,” said Guido Bartels, General Manager, IBM Global Energy & Utilities Industry. “We are delighted to be working with PG&E and their customers to help them optimize and transform their IT operations.”

IBM’s Mobile Measurement Technology utilizes a unique advanced measurement technique, coupled with statistical and optimization methods designed to help provide scientific strategies for improving space and energy efficiency of existing data centers. The new mobile measurement machine includes a position monitoring system with a network of up to 100 sensors used to gather thermal data at a granular level, with unprecedented speed and accuracy as it travels through the data center. A 10,000 square foot data center can be completely surveyed within a few hours by the MMT, compared to taking several weeks for several people to survey the data center by hand. Wireless thermal sensor technologies can also be deployed to measure long-term, transient temperature effects in the data center.

IBM Eligible for PG&E Energy Efficiency Programs

Serving one in every 15 Americans, PG&E is a recognized leader in the development and implementation of innovative customer energy efficiency programs. Over the last three decades, the company’s energy efficiency programs have helped its customers save nearly $10 billion in energy use and prevented over 125 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

PG&E offers a comprehensive portfolio of program and service offerings for customers operating data centers and information technology infrastructure, including technical support and financial incentives for energy efficiency improvement projects.

IBM announced today that select systems from its BladeCenter, System p and System x product lines are eligible for PG&E’s incentive program for server replacement projects. These models exceed efficiency benchmarks established by PG&E for web serving and Java workloads. The program is strictly limited to replacement projects and IBM will be partnering with PG&E to extend the program for additional IT workload types.

The issue of reducing power consumption within data centers is gaining national attention. Data centers can use up to one hundred times the energy per square foot of typical office space and account for an estimated 1 percent to 2 percent of the nation’s electricity consumption.

PG&E was the first company to offer incentives for virtualization technology, prompting customers to remove underutilized computing and data storage equipment. In addition, the company recently spearheaded a coalition of utilities to discuss and coordinate energy efficiency programs for the high tech sector, focusing on data centers. IBM is working with qualified PG&E customers to secure financial incentives for IBM’s storage virtualization solution, the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller, which allows customers to more efficiently manage data storage and retire inefficient and underutilized equipment. IBM is working on a similar strategy for customers who virtualize IT workloads, resulting in consolidation using IBM’s System x, blades, p, i, z servers. PG&E clients should contact their IBM representative to find out how they qualify for these incentives.


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