Software Automatically Turns Off Idle Computers to Cut Data Center Energy Use

Demand-based policies, increased compatibility with third-party management solutions, and broad platform support.

by / June 3, 2008

Cassatt Corporation, a provider of software that makes data centers more efficient, recently announced a major new capability of its Cassatt Active Response products that enables the software to monitor the changing demand on servers and automatically turn them off when they become idle. The updated software is the first to enable data center managers to actively control server power usage in both predictable and unpredictable computing environments, reducing the amount of energy needed to run and cool data centers, while maintaining application reliability and responsiveness, the company said.

This unique, demand-based management capability is part of a major new update to the Cassatt Active Response product line. The new Cassatt Active Response 5.1 release offers:
o The ability to use demand-based policies to manage IT infrastructure in real time
o Increased compatibility and integration with third-party management solutions, and
o Management and control over a larger set of technology and data center equipment from multiple vendors.

The new demand-based policies in Cassatt Active Response can be used to ensure a data center uses only the resources it needs to meet its business requirements and no more. Customers can start out using this capability to simply detect and turn off servers once they are no longer in use, saving power despite unpredictable usage patterns. Beyond this, customers can have Cassatt Active Response watch application demand and add or remove physical or virtual servers, software, or network resources so applications deliver the service levels required in the most efficient way possible.

Early work with customers has shown that Cassatt Active Response can cut data center energy use 30 percent or more by powering servers down and back up again based on a regular schedule. By also using the new demand-based policies to automatically shut down servers that become idle at unscheduled times, data center energy savings could be as high as 50 percent.

"Data centers should use only what they need at any given moment," said Bill Coleman, chairman and CEO of Cassatt Corp. "But recent surveys by Cassatt, by McKinsey & Company, and by the Uptime Institute have all clearly shown that this is not the case. There is a huge amount energy waste in data centers overall, and some of the worst offenders are development and test environments.

"Cassatt is now providing customers a way to attack this problem, break out of 'business-as-usual,' and make a real difference in their energy and data center resource usage," said Coleman. "With Cassatt Active Response, you can for the first time have IT infrastructure that reacts automatically to demand, shutting components off or turning them on as needed."

Cut Power Costs Despite Unpredictable Usage Patterns
With this new release, customers can use demand-based policies to have Cassatt Active Response power down any server that meets their specific definition of "idle," whenever that might occur. In a development and test environment, for example, Cassatt Active Response can automatically power on servers for scheduled testing and then turn those servers off whenever the tests are complete and the environment is no longer in use. This active, demand-based control of servers lets organizations eliminate the enormous waste that results from the current practice of powering (and cooling) servers 24 by 7, despite being used for only a fraction of that time.

This new demand-based capability complements existing policy controls that Cassatt delivered when it introduced Cassatt Active Response, Standard Edition, and the Cassatt Active Power ManagementTM technology at the end of 2007. The initial product helped with the efficient operation of servers, using policies based upon time of day, specific events, or required capacity to power machines on and off safely, intelligently, and systematically. Cassatt Active Response also provides manual user overrides that can immediately turn on servers for unscheduled work.

Cassatt Active Power Management Aligns with Expert Recommendations
"The EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] is currently working alongside various industry groups to develop Energy Star products and rating systems for energy-efficient data centers," said Andrew Fanara, U.S. EPA Energy Star product development team lead. "We have for some time recognized the energy-saving opportunity to actively power-manage idle servers in the data center, and are encouraged that private sector vendors like Cassatt are taking their own energy efficiency initiatives in this space."

"If current trends continue, U.S. data center power consumption will nearly double from 2005 levels by 2011," said Jonathan Koomey, consulting professor at Stanford University and a key contributor to the EPA's 2007 Report to Congress on Server and Data Center Energy Efficiency. "Server power management technologies can be effective in improving energy efficiency in data centers and alleviating the power and cooling constraints faced by many of these facilities."

Use Only What You Need to Maintain Application Service Levels
The new demand-based policies in Cassatt Active Response have broader benefits as well.

Cassatt Active Response, Premium Edition, and Cassatt Active Response, Data Center Edition, let data center managers use policies to manage multiple components of their IT infrastructure to deliver required application service levels. Cassatt Active Response pools physical and virtual resources and allocates them as required, based upon policies you set. With the demand-based policies, Cassatt Active Response can monitor and automatically provision or decommission the physical and virtual server, software, and network resources as appropriate to meet the application demand.

This means that with Cassatt Active Response 5.1, customers can break down the static silos of hardware and software that sit mostly idle in data centers today, over-provisioned in anticipation of the largest possible spikes in demand. With demand-based policies, customers can pool their hardware and software resources across applications, and use only the amount of computing capacity needed at any one time.

For example, scale-out "server farms" supporting a Web application need only utilize a few servers - physical or virtual - during slow times, but then have many more resources actively supporting that application during periods of peak demand. Because Cassatt Active Response is monitoring demand and reacting accordingly, these peaks and valleys are handled with the exact amount of computing resources required, maintaining application availability, reliability, and responsiveness.

Integration with Third Party Tools
With Cassatt Active Response 5.1, Cassatt also extends the way its product line can work cooperatively with other existing tools in the data center. Cassatt has added a new outbound communications interface with capabilities to dynamically interact with other IT operational process systems, such as application delivery controllers like F5's BIG-IP solutions, systems and network management tools like HP OpenView, trouble ticket managers, and other data center infrastructure systems throughout the enterprise.

This new integration capability allows Cassatt to update a customer's existing systems management, configuration management database (CMDB), or compliance systems in real-time about actions taken by Cassatt Active Response. This allows Cassatt's capabilities to synchronize with existing processes, helps operations run more smoothly, and preserves and extends existing management system investments.

"F5 is the global leader in Application Delivery Networking," said Ron Carovano, Jr., business development manager at F5. "Because each application interacts with the network in a unique way, particular network configurations may affect performance, availability, and power usage. By integrating F5 solutions with Cassatt Active Response, our mutual customers can maximize application performance while minimizing energy consumption and cost."

Hardware and Software Independent
Cassatt Active Response is hardware and software independent, is designed to require no change to existing hardware or software configurations, and is compatible with a customer's existing power distribution equipment.

With Cassatt Active Response 5.1, Cassatt has expanded its compatibility with

power controllers to include the new Sun Advanced Lights Out Manager (ALOM) and Integrated Lights Out Manager (ILOM), as well as with managed power distribution units (PDUs) from Server Technology and Western Telematic Inc. (WTI). Cassatt has also added new software and hardware support for Sun FireTM x64 (x86, 64-bit) servers, Dell Blade Servers, and Cisco 6500 network switches.

"We are pleased to see Cassatt Active Response supporting the power controllers and hardware from Sun," said Bob McGaughey, senior director of systems product management at Sun Microsystems, Inc. "The combination of Sun and Cassatt gives customers a way to improve the way they operate their servers and data centers, resulting in lower costs but also much more responsive IT systems. "

Cassatt Active Response is already compatible with server power controllers from Dell (ERA and DRAC), Hewlett-Packard (iLO), and IBM (BCMM) and external PDUs from APC, DualComm, and Baytech. Existing supported operating system platforms include Solaris on SPARC, Red Hat Linux, Novell SuSE Linux, and Microsoft Windows. Supported networking platforms also include the Cisco 3000 series, Extreme Summit 400, Dell PowerConnect, and the Nortel 5000 series.

Cassatt Active Response Product Line
The Cassatt Active Response product line delivers increased energy savings, smarter utilization of server assets, and increased application availability, while making it easier for customers to incrementally adopt data center efficiency improvements.

Cassatt Active Response 5.1 consists of three editions: Standard Edition, Premium Edition, and Data Center Edition -- each providing progressively more capabilities. Customers can start with the Standard Edition aimed exclusively at improving energy efficiency. They can then progressively expand their use of Cassatt by upgrading as needed to additional editions or by applying additional policy-based controls to more servers across their organizations. Cassatt will be adding a fourth edition to the product line, Cassatt Active Response, Enterprise Edition, enabling an enterprise to share and optimize its resources across multiple data centers in different geographies.

Pricing and Availability
The 5.1 release of Cassatt Active Response, Standard Edition, Premium Edition, and Data Center Edition are available now. Pricing for each edition in the Cassatt Active Response product line remains the same and includes the newly added capabilities. Cassatt Active Response, Standard Edition, starts at $200 per managed machine. Cassatt Active Response, Premium Edition, starts at $1,250 per managed machine. Cassatt Active Response, Data Center Edition, starts at $2,500 per managed machine.