A common theme in the business environment today is the effort to be green, or to reduce a business' carbon footprint. Data centers present a challenge to this idea of being green. In order to operate a data center a large amount of power is required. Power in a data center is used to operate computers, routers, storage devices, cooling equipment, etc. There have been a number of improvements to overall efficiency of the devices in a data center. Two innovative ideas, cloud computing and virtual machines, provide additional means to help make a data center eco-friendly.
Cloud Computing is a model that allows convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of resources through the Internet. A user's computer has little software or data stored locally and essentially acts as a display terminal that allows access to programs and data supplied by a service provider. This is commonly referred to as Software as a Service (SaaS). A good analogy for how cloud computing works is a public utility such as water, electricity, etc. A centralized public utility service provider frees individuals from difficulties of pumping their own water or generating electricity. A cloud A cloud computing service provider frees individuals from the difficulties of distributing, installing, maintaining, and updating computer software and data storage devices. Cloud computing helps make a data center green by taking devices out of a data center and centralizing the devices that support multiple businesses in a single location. The centralized location can be optimized to support only the data center, which can lead to more efficient cooling and an overall improvement in the use of energy. Moving the devices to a centralized location also allows the service provider to match the server capacity to the actual demand of each of its clients. This can also reduce the amount of energy required to run the data center.
One example of how cloud computing limits the number of devices required for a local data center is remote backup. This allows users to store data at an offsite location that is accessed through the Internet. Another application would be a service provider allowing remote access to commercial software. The service provider is responsible for maintaining, distributing, and updating the software which removes the burden from the end user and provides a potential cost savings.
Virtual machine initially described a 1960s operating system concept which was a software abstract with the looks of a computer system's hardware. Today's virtual machines are broken into two different categories: system virtual machines and process virtual machines. A process virtual machine, or application virtual machine, runs as a normal application in the background as part of an operating system. This type of virtual machine is designed to support a single process. It is created when the process is started and destroyed when the process is complete. The purpose of this type of virtual machine is to provide a platform independent programming environment that allows the process to be executed in the same manner, regardless of the platform.
A system virtual machine is category of virtual machines which allow multiple virtual machines to share the underlying resources of the physical machine. A virtual machine monitor or hypervisor software is required to support and create the virtualization. This concept allows the number of servers in the data center to be reduced. Reducing the number of servers in the datacenter lessens the amount of power and cooling that is required to run the data center which can help to make for a green data center.
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