The Al Gore-supported Live Earth concerts are having the Live Earth web site hosted by a solar power-using hosting facility. IBM has jumped onto the Live Earth bandwagon, saying the hosting company, AISO, uses IBM server products.

Live Earth is a monumental music event on July 7, 2007 to combat the climate crisis. The aim is to inspire over two billion people world-wide to take simple steps to lead a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Live Earth will stage official concerts in New York, London, Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg and Hamburg, and will feature a mix of both legendary music acts like The Police, Genesis, Bon Jovi and Madonna with the latest headliners like Kanye West, Kelly Clarkson, Black Eyed Peas, Jack Johnson and more.

Live Earth’s 24 hours of music across seven continents will deliver a worldwide call to action and the solutions necessary to answer that call. The concerts mark the beginning of a multi-year campaign to encourage individuals, corporations and governments to take action to solve the climate crisis.

Live Earth is partnering with the Alliance for Climate Protection, The Climate Group, Stop Climate Chaos and other international organizations in the effort.

AISO.Net claims it is the world's first and only solar-powered hosting company. It was selected by the Live Earth producers to host the liveearth.org web site because of its environmental credentials.

AISO says that Live Earth has recognized that AISO is the only truly green Web hosting company and 100 percent solar-powered data center that does not use green energy credits, proving their commitment to be the best, most reliable eco-friendly hosting company in the world.

It reckons that its 120 solar panel system will eliminate the production of:

- 19,890 lbs of Carbon Dioxide (CO2/GHG) per year
- 5.9 lbs of Nitrous Oxide (NOX/smog) per year
- 0.45 lbs of Sulfur Dioxide (SO4/acid rain) per year

This is said to be the equivalent of planting 3.5 acres of trees per year and AISO.Net is completely solar-powered.

AISO's green re-invention

AISO.net reinvented itself as an environment-friendly provider in 2001—well before issues such as carbon emissions gained prominence—it was more than an expression of its founders' Green values. It also reflected what they saw as a large, untapped opportunity to provide clean computing capacity to the business community in the future, as the need to confront sustainability issues inevitably grew.

To meet this opportunity, AISO.net built its solar-powered data center in the California desert. In the centre it started out using 'white box' servers. These were hard to scale, AISO finding it would need to build out its server capacity substantially, with a corresponding increase in its data center power and cooling requirements. This meant that to remain self-sustaining, the company would also need to invest in additional solar generation capacity, an investment that would enhance neither its bottom line nor its ability to provide better service to customers.

This led AISO.net to reappraise its infrastructure strategy.

AISO Technology Manager Phil Nail said: "If we stayed on the road we were on, we'd be looking at substantially higher costs but wouldn't do anything to address our most strategic issue—the ability to handle future growth, while maintaining high levels of performance. We decided to take a fresh look at our systems, and came to the conclusion that virtualization was a very promising path for our future infrastructure needs."

AISO.net then identified VMware Infrastructure 3 application as the optimal virtualization software for its needs, and IBM System x servers as the best hardware.

Virtualised servers and IP SAN

It used an IBM business partner, Sirius Computer Solutions, as it had a good track record of designing and implementing VMware/IBM systems.

The new, Sirius-designed infrastructure exhibited a marked consolidation in hardware; nearly 100 standalone servers were replaced by four System x servers, with a big improvement in overall flexibility and resiliency. VMware's VMotion virtualisation technology enabled Sirius to partition AISO.net's four physical servers into a series of linked virtual machines, across which resources can be allocated seamlessly and automatically.

Sirius made a significant change on the storage side. The servers were linked to a SAN, as before, but Fibre Channel linking was not used. Sirius significantly reduced SAN storage cost by using iSCSI over Ethernet.

For the SAN itself, Sirius chose a clustered 10TB SAN solution from IBM partner Network Appliance. Because of this design choice Sirius cut the storage portion of AISO.net's infrastructure costs in half.

By transforming its infrastructure this way AISO.net gained a big increase in in redundancy and availability; it has 99.9 percent uptime. It can now scale up its hosting facilities and stay within its solar-powered energy envelope.

Today AISO.net serves over 15,000 customers from around the world.

Live Earth boost

Live Earth is a big boost for AISO's marketing image. Phil Nail, its technology manager, said: “AISO is proud to support Live Earth, a groundbreaking event to support a vital cause. We are doing everything we can do to be totally responsible and being the industry leader in environmental Web hosting. We are very excited about Live Earth choosing AISO to host its Web site, showing the world that AISO.Net truly cares about our environment.”

For the Live Earth site AISO custom-designed a dedicated setup using IBM's IBM BladeCenter servers with AMD Opteron processors. IBM says that the energy-efficiency of its blade servers helped. AISO itself states 'AMD Opteron-powered servers use sixty percent less energy and generate fifty percent less heat' than comparable rack-mount servers.

IBM says that blade computers, which integrate servers, storage, networking and applications into one system, offer a design point that helps reduce the proliferation of server 'farms', large IT staffs to manage them, and wasted energy resources. Companies like AISO.Net can benefit the blade servers' from reduced power, cooling, and management costs.

Nail hammers home this point too: “AISO.Net chose IBM and AMD over the other major vendors because of success with IBM’s hardware, the open and highly-available design of BladeCenter and excellent customer service. We can run the Live Earth Web site on IBM BladeCenter and get great performance without having the power draw we would have had with rack servers.”

AISO.Net is making additional green enhancements to its datacenter so as to better support the goals of Live Earth as well as its own. It is installing new carpeting made from recycled content, replacing all of its Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs with LED lighting, repainting the building using only LEED certified paint, and installing an underground grey water tank that will provide for outdoor landscaping.

Was AMD pleased about this? You bet. Senior strategist Larry Vertal, said: “Our technology partnership with IBM and collaboration with customers like AISO.Net is helping AMD honor our commitment to lead the world to energy-efficient processing. The industry-leading performance-per-watt capabilities of the AMD Opteron processor running the energy-efficient IBM BladeCenter servers will help enable AISO.Net to efficiently power Live Earth’s Web site while minimizing their own power and cooling requirements.”