The book The Green and Virtual Data Center by Greg Schulz includes a vast array of topics pertaining to data center elements and virtualization from fundamentals to practice. The author covered energy efficiency metric basics and continued with the application of PCFE to the current practices in IT operations. The material is relevant and practical yet not overly technical; however, it is also not intended for readers with no prior working knowledge of data center infrastructures or IT in general. The main theme of the book is to analyze current data center operations to find opportunities where energy consumption can be reduced by cutting waste or misallocation of energy, minimizing heat production, introduce a well-designed virtualization strategy to maximize computing output from existing resources, and to adopt technologies and techniques that facilitate efficiency and availability.
The value of The Green and Virtual Data Center lies primarily in its conceptual application, rather than technical application, to the issue of how to get more out of existing computing and storage capacity while at the same time reducing the energy utilization. He states that the intent is not to "green wash" the data center but rather to serve as a very real means of adding to the bottom line and have IT be an active player in the organization's added resource allocation rather than merely a consumer of resources.
Early in the book, Schulz dispels any notion of "green" as a political or PR maneuver but rather sees the implementation of an energy reduction strategy as a business decision while helping make operations more effective and productive. To serve that purpose, the book includes statistics and charts but not as a basis of the concept but rather as an aid to reinforce the main thesis if the book. Schulz also makes it very clear that going green should be all about business and the progress of the industry with the added benefit of being positive to the environment in the way of reduced carbon emissions and recycling. To this Schulz provides and well evolved lecture on the basics of power generation and the different types of fuels involved. He also mentions the electrical grid and the different distribution plants.
In the second section, the book covers virtualization almost exclusively. The topics are relevant but certainly not all of them will be around for long as he gets quite granular when discussing snapshots and data replication. While the current virtualization practices are a good foundation, Schulz perhaps should have covered them from a different angle such as the main underlying concepts only and leave out the details as those will most likely change and some already have such as the rapid advancement of cloud computing, distributed clouds and cloud infrastructure management. Of course, the cloud still has to exist in data centers but some may look be architected very differently than described by Schulz. The Green and Virtual Data Center only includes a few pages on cloud computing without any real new content.
Schulz also discusses virtual data center energy management but using the typical mechanized methods. He describes the types of power sources, energy consumers and devices but does not get into real detail relating to intelligent management mechanisms such as those promoted by The Green Grid or the intelligent management systems developed by IT software vendors. He also does not cover any real concepts relating to intelligent energy routing, provisioning or monitoring. Because of this omission, The Green and Virtual Data Center remained rather neutral and descriptive in nature but missed one of the potentially forthcoming revolutions in IT and perhaps business in general. Nevertheless, Schulz correctly describes cooling as the highest consumer of energy in the data center. He also provides good insight into rack cooling, backup systems, PDUs, and how to determine energy needs and usage.
The Green and Virtual Data Center covers several topics that are better suited for a different book such as physical security, networking, and hardware. Schulz does not particularly specialize or offer any innovative solutions or ideas on how to maximize resource utilization. The material he presents is not original but rather a compilation of what is out in the industry. What Schulz does quite well is put the material together and synthesize ideas from various disciplines into the area of data center operations.
Some topics that Schulz omits almost entirely are the data center management and structure as well as operations as they relate to personnel and processes. These areas would have offered potential practical applications to increasing efficiencies in the data center by way of improved practices, management, processes or structure. He offers some dialogue on outsourced data centers and some mentions of management but not much else.
Schulz's book is an adequate reference resource for individuals who work in data centers. It may also be a valuable source as an inside view to those who do not work in data centers. However, The Green and Virtual Data Center also includes material that is not entirely relevant to the topic of green and virtual data centers but valuable to know. The most value in the book lies in the definition of concepts and trends in virtualization, even if at times it gets overly granular but not to the extent of a VMWare manual. Data center practitioners will get value out of the book but IT and business readers in general may find some topics out of their scope yet a valuable resource that delivers an insider's view of the energy efficient and virtualized data center.