A group of technology companies have collaborated in an attempt to improve enegry efficiency in data centres. And the Green Grid is now looking to attract end users to its energy efficiency intitiative.

The Green Grid's mission is to promote the development of energy efficient processors, servers, networks and other technology and to promote best practices for data centres. The non-profit organisation doesn't expect to be able to reduce energy use, but to use power more efficiently as computer processing demand inevitably grows, said Mark Munroe, director of sustainable computing for SunLabs Eco-Responsibility Group.

Sun is one of 11 companies that are founding members of The Green Grid and whose representatives serve as its board. Other member companies include AMD, Dell, HP, Microsoft, VMware and Intel.

The group which includes vendors covering all aspects of data centre technology is now looking to its customers to join in.

"We need to pull end users in and get their input," said Jim Pappas, director of technology initiatives at Intel.

Users can now sign up to join on the Green Grid website. Already, about 1,200 people have signed up on the site to receive more information about the group and 49 percent of them identified themselves as end users or groups representing them.

The Green Grid will be divided into four major working groups, Pappas said: Data Collection and Analysis; Technology and Strategy; Data Center Operations; Metrics and Measurements.

Pappas compared the structure of the working groups to the development of a hybrid car. The Data Collection and Analysis Group identifies the problem, such as the rising price of a barrel of oil. The Technology and Strategy Group looks at alternatives to the combustion engine, such as electric, compressed natural gas or bio-diesel. The Operations Group develops specific cars, like the Toyota Prius or the Ford Escape Hybrid. And the Metrics and Measurements Group verifies the mileage those cars would get and puts that information on the window sticker.

As it relates to data centre operations, establishing measurements and metrics for energy efficiency will guide center managers on what results to expect from investing in green technology. It will also give vendors a way to compare their technology to competitors', Pappas said.

"We need to make changes to our industry. [The Green Grid] will create markets and then companies can compete in those markets," he said.

A general membership in The Green Grid will cost US$5,000 annually, which includes access to all technical documentation produced by The Green Grid, access to intellectual property licensing and other benefits. A contributing membership, for $25,000, also includes an invitation to join technology working groups, review technology documentation at each phase of development and contribute to shaping the future direction of the group.

Original story by IDG news service