Cassatt has unveiled technology that allows datacentre managers to automatically switch off idling servers, a move which the company claims can halve electricity costs in a datacentre.

Cassatt says that its Active Power Management (APM) technology, monitors server activity and switches the machines on and off as needed. APM runs on any platform, requires no change to existing hardware and software configurations or new software on them, and is compatible with existing power distribution and UPS equipment. It works with internal power controllers found on most modern servers or external power distribution units. Accordingly, the company says its installation means little disruption to operations.

Datacentre admin staff can set policies, and APM will work to optimise power consumption using parameters such as time, server demand, application dependencies, and electricity peak and off-peak supply characteristics.

The technology determines which servers to power down, and for how long, and then handles application requirements before turning them off. As servers are needed again, it applies the same logic and priorities to power up those servers as appropriate.

"Our most recent survey puts power and cooling as the number one issue in datacentres today," said Michelle Bailey, an IDC research VP. "Servers are typically kept on 24 by 7, leading to an enormous waste of power and cooling resources."

Datacentres usually are equipped with servers that can handle peak demand by computer users, but as a result, are under-utilised outside the peak demand time. American Power Conversion studies have shown that servers consume as much as 55 percent of their fully-loaded power when they sit idle.

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"Datacentres have been big energy wasters because they operate on a one-application-per-server principle to ensure 100 percent uptime during peak usage, resulting in massively over-provisioned systems constantly running at full power even when they’re not needed," said Cassatt's chairman and CEO, Bill Coleman. "Now customers can have 100 percent uptime - and cut their energy costs nearly in half."

Cassatt claims that because APM is faster and easier to implement than existing strategies, its use is an ideal first move to take when trying to cut datacentre power consumption.

The company is working with early adopters, like Brocade, the storage networking switch supplier.

"With thousands of active servers in our test and development labs alone, having the ability to set policies to automatically power them up and down as needed represents an opportunity for tremendous energy and cost savings for Brocade," said Zahid Hussain, Brocade's engineering VP.

Availability and price details were not revealed.