PG&E adds thin provisioning to energy-saving incentive program

Program grew from 3PAR's demonstration that combining storage virtualization and thin provisioning can save power

Storage virtualization and thin provisioning have joined server virtualization and MAID (massive array of idle drives) on the list of energy-saving technologies that California utility PG&E will pay customers to implement. The news comes as a part of an announcement by storage vendor and thin provisioning pioneer 3PAR for its Virtual Technology Incentive Program (V-TIP).

Thin provisioning offers a means of essentially pooling all of your various storage resources such that space can be easily allocated to servers on the fly, and just as much as needed. Coupled with storage virtualization, it can help organizations not only get a better handle on storage management but boost storage utilization. Right now, storage resources tend to be grossly underutilized at around 20 percent, according to 3PAR.

"Storage virtualization and thin provisioning technologies help our customers realize significant capacity and cost savings while also addressing critical datacenter energy issues," said Mark Bramfitt, principal program manager for PG&E, in a written statement. "By providing financial incentives, we hope to increase industry adoption of these smart and efficient new storage technologies."

[For more on the energy-saving potential of thin provisioning, please read "How green is your provisioning?" Find out more about other green storage approaches by reading "Storage grows greener."]

The rebates are based on the amount of energy savings achieved by datacenters through storage virtualization and thin provisioning. To qualify, customers must apply for and be accepted into the rebate program prior to deploying the storage technology.

According to Bramfitt, customers aren't tied only to 3PAR technology to reap the incentives. "PG&E's incentive programs are never vendor specific. Any vendor of data storage virtualization/consolidation and thin provisioning technology is eligible to sponsor customer projects."

3PAR has the advantage of being "the first to work with us to quantify energy savings and to successfully apply under our program guidelines," according to Bramfitt.

3PAR was able to validate the potential savings of its technology through an implementation at Wikibon Energy Lab, a service provided by wikibon.org. The organization found that by deploying thin provisioning on 3PAR InServ disk drives, it was able to reduce energy consumption by 75 percent "relative to traditional modular and monolithic arrays," according to Wikibon CTO David Floyer. The savings came from using less physical disk space and fewer disk drives.

PG&E currently is a leader among the nation's utilities in offering incentives to organizations to reduce their energy consumption. More utilities are looking to follow PG&E's lead as power shortages continue to affect more and more of their customers.

[Learn more about PG&E's MAID incentive program and its server virtualization program. To learn how other utilities are following PG&E's lead, please read "Utilities explore energy-saving incentives for IT."]

For more information about PG&E's technology-oriented incentive programs, visit

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