ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia National Laboratories has received a 2012 Department of Energy Sustainability Award for energy management of its computer servers.
The awards recognize DOE national laboratories and sites nationwide for outstanding accomplishments in sustainability, specifically in managing pollution, waste, energy, water and vehicle fleets.
Sandia’s award in the comprehensive energy management category was for its efforts to deploy virtual servers, which have reduced energy use and costs and prevented pollution through reductions in equipment purchases, operations and disposal.
In April, the project also received a National Nuclear Security Administration Pollution Prevention Best in Class award.
Typical physical computer servers are 10 to 15 percent efficient, yet require 100 percent power and cooling.
Over four years, Sandia moved to large-scale server virtualization through a “virtual first” policy, maximizing energy efficiency. More than 700 virtual servers were deployed, spanning six network partitions and multiple Sandia sites.
Sandia’s current hardware can have up to 100 virtual servers on each individual physical host server. By combining physical host servers into virtualization clusters using commercial software, host servers work together to balance the loads on virtual servers, resulting in applications operating nearly 100 percent of the time. The design also incorporates a reserve margin so in the event of a crash other servers will pick up the slack, making the entire system more reliable.
Server virtualization led to estimated total hardware savings of $3.4 million and net electricity savings of roughly 7.6 billion BTUs a year for additional cost savings of more than $200,000 annually. Server virtualization also eliminated the need to periodically upgrade and dispose of old servers.
John Zepper, director of Sandia’s Computing and Network Services Center, and Laura Lenberg of the Infrastructure Computing Services department accepted the award Thursday at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
“Today’s Sustainability Award winners are leading by example, showing what’s possible when employees bring creativity, innovation and dedication to their efforts to make the Department of Energy more sustainable,” said Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman. “The efforts undertaken by these individuals and teams are helping the department to deliver on President Obama’s sustainability goals, while inspiring others both inside and outside of government to start investing in cost-saving clean energy technologies.”
Ralph Wrons of Sandia’s Pollution Prevention program said the project “is a perfect example of cost austerity by saving on computer purchases, energy costs, and computer disposal costs, with the likelihood of increasing savings every year that the Labs depends upon server-hosted information, which could be a long time.” Sandia’s Pollution Prevention program works on electronics stewardship with many Labs organizations, including procurement, computer support and property management.