Dell’s sustainable data center management strategy: Interview with expert Alyson Freeman

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    At Dell Technologies World in Las Vegas, sustainability and an growing want for processing energy have been each sizzling matters. I spoke with Alyson Freeman, sustainability product supervisor at Dell’s Infrastructure Solutions Group, to find what Dell is doing within the area of sustainable information heart administration.
    In addition, Freeman pointed me to Dell’s total sustainability targets. By 2030, Dell goals to make use of 100% renewable packaging. By 2040, Dell plans that the entire electrical energy it makes use of will come from renewable sources. By 2050, Dell plans to achieve web zero greenhouse fuel emissions in accordance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Scopes 1, 2 and 3.
    The following is a transcript of my interview with Freeman. It has been edited for size and readability.
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    Carbon footprint monitoring within the information heart
    Megan Crouse: What is your total philosophy with regards to figuring out sustainability motion alternatives for Dell?
    Alyson Freeman: Clearly, it’s primarily based on the carbon footprints of our merchandise. This turns into an easy approach to prioritize among the many initiatives as a result of then you already know which of them are going to have essentially the most affect.
    [In terms of] laptops and desktops, their greatest affect on the atmosphere is within the manufacturing part. That’s why you see plenty of innovation round recycled plastic, bio-rubber and reclaimed carbon fiber.
    SEE: Reaching environmental targets with superior analytics will be good for your online business.
    On the information heart facet, we are able to take all these learnings from our Client Solutions Group (notebooks and peripherals) and apply them. But our greatest environmental affect is within the use part — the power it takes to run our gear. The improvements you’ll see from us are round {hardware} and software program for power effectivity.
    On the {hardware} facet, we’re taking a look at extra environment friendly air cooling, chassis configuration [and] liquid cooling choices. Software [can] assist handle that power utilizing Power Manager or CloudIQ to search out under-utilized gear within the information heart. That is without doubt one of the greatest wastes of power in a knowledge heart, and people are the kinds of issues we work on.
    Megan Crouse: An enormous situation in information facilities is servers and cooling; this may be dealt with by chassis circulate optimization and energy-efficient followers. What different developments from Dell scale back power use on this space?
    Alyson Freeman: For that, I might nonetheless reply software program. It’s not all {hardware} for power effectivity. You can’t enhance what you’ll be able to’t measure, so telemetry is essential. You want to grasp the place your energy goes and the way it’s getting used.OpenManage Enterprise Power Manager is on our servers, and it permits you to discover these under-utilized or “zombie” servers and place energy caps. It’s a one-to-many administration system, so you’ll be able to measure a whole information heart at a time, and it’ll additionally measure your carbon footprint. Similarly, CloudIQ is on the storage facet. It’s our energy administration software program that will even measure carbon footprint.
    Megan Crouse: What discount comparability interval is significant? Meaning, if you happen to can present the information heart makes use of much less energy as we speak than yesterday however rather more than three years in the past, what’s your company accountability with reference to holding monitor of that?
    Alyson Freeman: I’m certain there’s a company accountability, however our clients need it. They wish to know when it makes essentially the most sense to do a tech refresh and put money into a more recent, extra environment friendly know-how and the way a lot that’s going to vary their power payments over time. We have an evaluation to assist clients rapidly perceive — it’s not an excellent detailed calculation — that trade-off between the tech refresh and the way a lot power financial savings and carbon financial savings you’ll have over time. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all reply. It actually will depend on the client and which merchandise and configurations they’ve.
    More information, much less power
    Megan Crouse: At the convention on Monday through the analyst Q&A, Michael Dell talked about how organizations wish to crunch a large quantity of knowledge whereas utilizing much less power. How is Dell engaged on that?
    Alyson Freeman: We know that the world goes to wish increasingly more information, particularly with the entire generative AI, and our accountability is to do this as effectively as potential. AI may also help us resolve a few of these power points. There isn’t an off-the-shelf answer as we speak since generative AI is so new …
    What can new information insights let you know about the best way to be extra environment friendly and the way to make sure you’re utilizing renewable power on the proper time and placing workloads in the suitable place? You’re at all times going to wish the most recent merchandise. You want the most effective processors to run AI. But that doesn’t imply your outdated server isn’t helpful anymore.
    Megan Crouse: Is that linked to the idea of “zombie servers?”
    Alyson Freeman: Exactly. You wish to make it possible for if it’s plugged into the wall, you’re getting compute profit from it.
    Megan Crouse: Dell has pitched the concept of as-a-service as a alternative for the “buy and replace” mannequin. How does this scale back power consumption?
    Alyson Freeman: There are plenty of methods the as-a-service mannequin will be extra sustainable. One is we are able to care for the end-of-life for you. We can take again the outdated gear. There isn’t a burden on each particular person purchaser to determine what to do with their outdated gear.Another is we may also help management the place your merchandise are getting used. For instance, in the event that they’re in a co-located information heart powered by renewable power, we are able to make it possible for is extra sustainable.
    What else companies ought to take into account round power use
    Megan Crouse: What different choices ought to organizations take into account round replenishment and modernization?
    Alyson Freeman: You take a look at the return on funding. How a lot is that this extra environment friendly product going to value me? How a lot am I going to avoid wasting on power payments over time? How a lot am I not going to spend on carbon offsets as a result of I’m utilizing this?
    Data facilities are a uncommon space the place you don’t have a trade-off between your online business value and your sustainability choices. Sometimes, the extra sustainable choice may cost somewhat bit extra. In the information heart, we’re fortunate as a result of the extra sustainable choice does value much less in your power payments each month.
    Dell’s recycling measures
    Megan Crouse: What is the state of renewables in Dell’s infrastructure manufacturing provide chain equivalent to within the PowerEdge servers with their minimal use of paint?
    Alyson Freeman: You need to design with the tip in thoughts. If you wish to recycle a server, finally, you’ll be able to’t do it if there’s glue on it or if the plastic is blended with the aluminum. We’re studying from our take-back packages about what’s most essential to have the ability to recycle essentially the most quantity of fabric, and we’ve got to design it in from the very starting or else it gained’t occur on the finish of its life. That’s why it’s essential.
    The affect of synthetic intelligence on sustainability
    Megan Crouse: Some research have discovered that giant natural-language processing synthetic intelligence takes large quantities of power. What do you see clients speaking about by way of the sustainability of AI, and the way does that affect the way in which Dell makes and works with AI?
    Alyson Freeman: I don’t get plenty of large-language mannequin questions, however I feel the world goes to wish extra information, and we’ve got to do it as sustainably and as effectively as we probably can.
    Dell’s sustainability wins
    Megan Crouse: What are you particularly pleased with by way of Dell sustainability proper now?
    Alyson Freeman: Real-time telemetry measurement of carbon footprints. That is one thing that not one of the giant rivals do, and it takes plenty of work behind the scenes to get that into our merchandise. I feel it’s one of many issues that can make an enormous distinction as a result of we’re empowering all of our clients to have information about their carbon footprint they didn’t have earlier than, and that can drive plenty of change. It’s a multiplicative impact.
    More information from Dell Technologies World

    Disclaimer: Dell paid for my airfare, lodging and a few meals for the Dell Technologies World occasion held May 22-25 in Las Vegas.

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