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There has never been any love lost between IT professionals and the people that pay the electric bills for the data center. Facilities people don’t tend to care of environments that are not particularly predictable and IT people are not particularly well known for their appreciation of the cost of electricity or the difficulties associated with actually delivering it.

Of course, the end goal should be to reduce the source of these tensions all together, which is what Hewlett-Packard is aiming to show people how to accomplish using a new HP Net-Zero Energy Data Center architecture that promises to cut total power usage by 30 percent and dependence on grid power that should reduce total costs by more than 80 percent. The basic idea is that by reducing energy costs and relying more on renewable energy resources, the amount of energy being consumed by the data center can be reduced to the point where the data center is essentially self-sustaining

Obviously, systems based on the HP Proliant Gen8 server architecture and data centers built using HP pod containers are critical to this initiative. Cullen Bash, distinguished technologist and interim director for HP sustainable Ecosystems Research Group, HP Labs, concedes it will take years for a net-zero approach to data center energy management to take hold. But the idea is particularly compelling in a cloud computing era where customers are increasingly struggling with server density and the amount of wattage those systems consume.

HP will be showcasing the HP Net-Zero Energy Data Center architecture next week at its HP Discover 2012 conference. In addition, the technologies that are being developed to support this initiative are part of the HP Open Innovation initiative, including a Prediction Model that HP is developing in conjunction with Virginia Tech and the University of Limerick in Ireland to automate capacity planning. The HP Enterprise Group also plans develop the HP Net-Zero Energy Data Center technology in collaboration with other HP divisions via the HP Moonshot Discovery Lab initiative and an HP EcoPOD effort that is part of the HP Discovery Lab in Houston, HP  has also actually already deployed the HP Net-Zero Energy Data Center architecture in small data center that is used by company researchers in Fort Collins, Colo.

Of course, the challenge is that the people that buy servers are not always the same people that pay the electric bills. As a result, CIOs have a tough time making a case for new server acquisitions based on savings that will benefit an area that is outside of their budgetary control. That, of course, creates an opportunity for solution providers that are typically more adept at making such cases to chief financial officers that typically have ultimate responsibility for both the IT and facilities budgets.

Naturally, the HP Net-Zero Energy Data Center architecture has a strong Green IT appeal, which generates more interest in some geographic regions than others. But regardless of how customers feel about Green IT, the fact of the matter is that there are significant power consumption issues that need to be addressed, ranging from the amount of power consumed to how it’s distributed. Those issues create opportunities for solution providers to play the role of peacemaker in a way that when done right should actually benefit all the parties concerned.