The corona crisis has accelerated the transition to the digital economy: we work from home, order our groceries online and watch more Netflix. This ensures that more data is generated, sent and stored and this requires more energy. The first LEAP pilots show that parties can save extra energy by making better use of the existing eco-mode on their server.
LEAP was set up by the Amsterdam Economic Board, NLdigital, Green IT Amsterdam, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the North Sea Canal Area Environment Agency. Together with a coalition of companies from the Amsterdam data center chain, they are committed to a sustainable digital economy by optimizing the energy efficiency of data use with ICT.
The first phase focuses on short-term energy savings with existing technology, such as eco-mode in power settings. In addition, we are looking for fundamental solutions with the coalition partners in LEAP to accelerate innovations around data centers.
In the past few months, pilots have been investigating the possibilities for energy saving, without loss of performance. One of the pilots ran on KPN’s internal data center. Is it really possible to save extra energy with more ambitious settings without sacrificing the speed of the server? Four KPN employees tell how it went.
The four employees who move around the digital table are enthusiastic about LEAP. ‘Also because KPN has been working on saving energy for years,’ says Jeroen Cox, responsible for the Energy and Environment theme. ‘That is quite a challenge, because we have started to use more and more data in our society. It is a constant shift to stimulate energy efficiency. ‘
Does a network have to work 24/7?
The dilemma faced by IT professionals who want to save energy is that they simultaneously want to ensure that the networks and the applications always work. ‘This makes it quite exciting to take energy-saving measures,’ says Cox. ‘When this project came along, we were there from the start. It is a nice group of participants: companies that use computers, but also companies that make them. Hopefully this will make us more comfortable with saving energy in the long run. ‘
“Many data centers do not dare to use the eco-mode of the power setting. They are afraid that this will slow down the performance of the computers and that it will not yield much.”
Fear of using eco-mode
Arnold Hoogerwerf, who is responsible for software and sustainability within the Technology, Innovation, Roadmaps & Architecture department: ‘For the first phase, for which we have just completed the pilot, we looked at whether we could make the current data centers more energy-efficient. Many data centers do not dare to use the eco-mode of the power setting. They are afraid that this will slow down the performance of the computers and that it will not yield much. We therefore wanted to check: what difference does eco-mode make, and does it yield anything? ‘
For the kick-off of this experiment in February 2020, the choice was made for the server with the least possible risk to business operations. Hoogerwerf: ‘We ran the test on a low profile server that does not run the most important applications. By the way, we did the test much more extensively than LEAP requested. That gave us a better picture of the potential energy savings. ‘
Eco-mode does not slow down network
‘We first measured the flow of an enclosure’, says Luc Beerta, responsible for KPN’s platform strategy. An enclosure is the cabinet that contains the hardware of a computer. ‘We also looked at how many machines run on it and how much power we draw with it. Then we turn on eco-mode. A week later we measured the differences. LEAP selected the information we received from the enclosures software for us.’
KPN has set up the service and hardware very efficiently and well, says Beerta. ‘But despite that, we turned out to have made a small saving, namely 7 percent.’ And the good news: ‘The KPN employees who use the server have not noticed the adjusted settings on the low profile server. The eco-mode does not slow down the performance of the low profile server. ‘
One measuring method for reading out all KPN servers
Reading out the enclosures can be even more efficient. Beerta: ‘You can read them easily, but all the equipment that surrounds them makes it a lot more difficult. That is why we are now looking at whether we can adjust the power strips. This way we can read it in a generic way and pinpoint which server consumes the most. ‘ This generic way of reading is a result of participation in LEAP. ‘Previously, our image was limited to certain parts. But we don’t all work on islands anymore. We are now working on making everything generic for all sub-departments. ‘
“The fact that we save another 7 percent even in such an optimized environment with the eco-mode, indicates that the eco-mode is definitely having an effect.”
Other energy-saving measures besides eco-mode
In addition to eco-mode and a generic way of reading, KPN has been working on technical measures to save energy in data centers for some time. ‘LEAP was positively surprised at how efficiently we had set up our servers,’ says Germar Braam, responsible for the hardware the platforms use. ‘By clustering we can cool 15 kilowatts per cabinet. And those cabinets contain even more elements that we can save on. We also use virtual machines. With our current server architecture, we have already started to save more than 80 percent of the energy. The fact that we save another 7 percent even in such an optimized environment with the eco mode, indicates that the eco mode is definitely having an effect. ‘
Follow-up steps LEAP
The aim of the pilots is to develop best practices that show the potential of eco-mode in the power settings of our servers. They serve as an example and as an inspiration to increase the awareness, level of knowledge and confidence among IT administrators of customers and data centers and to encourage smarter use of the possibilities offered by the eco-mode.
The results of the pilots show that the use of eco-mode in power settings in conjunction with virtualization contributes strongly to the objectives for LEAP; improving the energy efficiency of ICT in data centers. Optimizing virtualization can already lead to significant financial savings on hardware, licenses and energy. The greatest efficiency improvement is achieved by making optimal use of power management options.
The analysis shows that further research is needed. The concern about the impact on performance when using eco-mode indicates a need for better understanding and research on energy management and application performance impact. In the coming period, a number of additional pilots will be carried out to further investigate this in practical situations.
There is also a need for clear guidance and instruction from software and hardware suppliers on how best to apply the energy management settings. A guide should highlight the potential savings and explain when standard energy management can be tightened or relaxed. The hardware suppliers in the LEAP coalition will work on this in the next phase.
With LEAP, we are at the beginning of impactful changes in the data center chain. If you are interested in joining the LEAP coalition and want to participate in a pilot, please contact: Marjolein Bot . Read more here about LEAP.
LEAP (Lower Energy Acceleration Program) is an initiative to further optimize energy efficiency of data use with the help of ICT. The initiative was set up by the Amsterdam Economic Board, NLdigital, Green IT Amsterdam, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the North Sea Canal Area Environment Agency. Together with a coalition of parties from the data center chain, LEAP wants to offer prospects for using (new) technologies and accelerating developments that can lead to energy reduction in data centers and organizations that have a lot of data traffic. In addition to the founders, the LEAP coalition consists of Albert Heijn, Alliander, Asperitas, Booking.com, Dell, Deloitte, Municipality of Almere, Municipality of Amsterdam, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Interxion, Iron Mountain, KPN, NEP Netherlands, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Rabobank , National Government Dictu, Royal Schiphol Group, SURFsara, VMware and VU University Amsterdam. This initiative is also supported by the Dutch Datacenter Association .
Would you like to receive our most important news in your mailbox from now on? Then sign up here for our monthly Board Update.