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Storage provider 3PAR on Jan. 19 took the idea of “greening” the data center a step further by announcing that for every terabyte of its Thin Provisioning storage capacity it sells in 2007, 3PAR will purchase the equivalent cost in so-called “carbon credits” to help offset the greenhouse gas emissions of the disk drives required to deliver that capacity.

The result for 3PAR customers—and the Earth in general—is something called “carbon neutral” storage, in which the cost of power and cooling emissions from disk drives is offset by investments in ecologically friendly systems, such as wind power.

Thin Provisioning is a 3PAR-created storage feature that lets users of its arrays write to any amount of capacity, yet actually use only a fraction of the total physical storage required by traditional arrays, 3PAR marketing director Craig Nunes told eWEEK.

“In Thin Provisioning, as a user begins writing to the disk, the arrays grab only the physical space needed for the job—whether it’s opening an application or whatever—and pull it back into the volume,” Nunes said. “So all the extra storage capacity isn’t touched, and therefore doesn’t require any energy to maintain.

“It’s a much more efficient way to use storage. In all the information we’ve seen, this kind of utility can save around 75 percent of power and cooling requirements. Think what can happen in large enterprises, with hundreds of volumes working at the same time,” Nunes said.

Organizations using 3PAR hardware and Thin Provisioning reduce not only the cost of their own capacity, power and cooling, but also the overall environmental costs associated with greenhouse gases, Nunes said.

Thin Provisioning energy savings combined with the 3PAR 2007 Carbon Neutral Storage program effectively provides customers with their first and only choice for carbon neutral storage, a spokesperson for the Fremont, Calif.-based company said.

In 2007, estimated offsets purchased by 3PAR will fund clean energy projects that will reduce carbon emissions generated from approximately 700 cars and 8 million pounds of CO2, the spokesperson said.

3PAR will purchase from TerraPass, the leading retailer of greenhouse gas reduction programs in the United States, carbon offsets associated with the power and cooling of approximately 4 petabytes of disk capacity.

“With Thin Provisioning and the 3PAR Carbon Neutral Program, 3PAR customers not only save significant energy costs associated with power and cooling the storage environment, but they also exercise environmental responsibility,” said David Scott, president and CEO of 3PAR.

Click here to read more about 3PAR’s utility storage.

To date, 3PAR customers have allocated about 24 petabytes of usable capacity to their applications. With traditional SAN arrays, this would have required approximately 36 petabytes of raw capacity using a mix of RAID 1 and RAID 5, the spokesperson said.

Using Thin Provisioning, 3PAR customers have achieved the same result by purchasing only 15 petabytes of raw capacity—saving the purchase of approximately 21 petabytes of raw capacity.

Thus, they have achieved the same business results with 60 percent less storage capacity, the spokesperson said. This disparity represents an annualized energy savings of approximately $4 million for 3PAR customers worldwide.

In energy terms, crude oil savings by 3PAR customers are estimated to equal approximately 74,000 barrels—enough oil to fuel 3,000 cars for a full year, the spokesperson said. In environmental terms, the carbon emissions reduced by this amount of crude oil savings would equate to 33,000 tons of CO2, the equivalent emissions of 6,000 cars for an entire year.

For more information on the 3PAR Thin Provisioning and the Carbon Neutral Storage program, go here.

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