Sunday, February 25, 2007

Green Grid needs growth

The Green Grid, an ad hoc consortium of eleven companies formally announcing itself Monday, needs members in networking, storage and other disciplines if it is to have the clout it needs to set standards for lowering power consumption in the data center. It also needs to get more transparent about what's on its agenda.

I applaud the group of eleven that formally debuts Feb. 26, but it's way too computer centric. No data center initiative will be successful without strong buy in from the likes of Brocade, Cisco, EMC, Juniper and their ilk.

The good news is the group's leadership includes seasoned pros like Tony Pierce, the former head of the PCI SIG, and Jim Pappas who helped lead more industry initiatives than you could shake a stick at including USB and Infiniband. And they know they also need strong participation from data-center users to do their work.

But what is their work? I found out they will take up the debate of whether data centers ought to switch from AC to DC power to eliminate losses in power conversion only because I heard about this from others and specifically asked Grid members. Otherwise the consortium is staying mum about what particulars they plan to put up for debate.

That's a mistake. There are plenty of issues that need to be worked out and the group ought to throw them out for public debate as one way to enlist more people to grapple with them.

The Green Grid is using the model of USB in which a small group of experts quietly defines 90 percent of a solution, then opens it up for the industry to provide feedback on the last ten percent. The data center power issues are too broad and involve too many kinds of systems and technologies for that approach.

What's needed here is more of an open-source software model where the whole community gets involved in tackling the many pieces of this complex problem. The role of the committee is then to codify the most viable pieces of the solution that emerge.

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