Wednesday, May 13, 2009

EPA begins long process to green storage specification

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is looking to develop standards for making data storage devices more energy efficient, although it's probably years away from having an industry-standard green storage specification.

The EPA issued an industry letter indicating that it's taking formal steps to develop an Energy Star specification for enterprise data storage devices. Meeting the voluntary Energy Star spec would allow data storage equipment manufacturers to use the familiar Energy Star marketing label to promote product energy efficiencies. The EPA already has a similar Energy Star program for computer servers, and the server specification is expected this week.

There's a lot of talk about green storage from vendors, but customers have no formal way of comparing products to determine their power efficiency.

Andrew Fanara, program manager for the EPA's Climate Protection Partnership Division, said the agency wants to develop more standardized information to measure the energy consumption of data center products.

"The long-term Holy Grail, if there is one, is to be able to measure how efficient systems are when they're actually doing computing," Fanara said, "and then presenting that information to users and buyers in an industry-standard format."

No deadline has been set for establishing the green storage specification. Fanara said the process could take anywhere from six months to three years, depending on technical issues, industry interest and manufacturer support. Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at Stillwater, Minn.-based StorageIO Group, said he expects the initial specification in 18 months to two years.

Challenges to data storage industry agreement
Schulz said the EPA's biggest challenge will be getting the data storage industry to agree on an initial specification and a roadmap for future green storage specifications. "In some ways, the EPA is tasked with herding cats," he said.

The specification is a blueprint that will define the energy guidelines enterprise data storage devices must meet to participate in the Energy Star program, Fanara said. Once a product meets the specification guidelines, manufacturers can voluntarily submit the product information to the EPA and the product will be added to a data storage equipment Energy Star-compliant list.

Schulz said the specification's applicability to storage users' real-world needs will be the key to its success. "The program's metrics have to be of benefit for the IT organization," Schulz said. "Otherwise, it's just an interesting exercise."

Schulz believes the initial green storage specification should focus on the amount of energy a storage device uses while working, as opposed to the device's energy use while idle.

"With the focus on efficiency optimization, boosting productivity and business economic sustainability, the issue then becomes how efficient the device is while doing work," he said.

Framework for testing and performance
Fanara said he expects the EPA to issue a framework document within 60 days, prepared by the EPA Energy Star technical staff in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy. Energy Star staff will also gather input from data storage devices users, buyers and component suppliers. The framework will identify initial testing procedures, and the performance and features organizations typically look for when buying data storage.

The framework will be released to the industry for comments and feedback on identifying barriers to energy efficiencies and standardized product information.

Battling to make data centers green
Fanara said the green storage specification is part of the EPA's concentration on increasing data center energy efficiency.

He said the agency has "identified data centers as an important growing source of energy consumption, especially given its unique position as a critical component of our country's computing backbone."

The Energy Star program is developing a data center and office building benchmarking program that will rate a building's energy efficiency from one to 100. So far, the agency has benchmarked close to 100,000 office buildings nationwide, Fanara said.

To help storage managers identify and evaluate data center energy-efficiency opportunities, the U.S. Department of Energy offers the Data Center Energy Profiler (DC Pro) software tool suite, which includes two free software tools for data center managers. The DC Pro Profiling Tool diagnoses how energy is used in a data center, and provides ways to save energy and money. The DC Pro Assessment Tools conduct a more accurate assessment of data center energy-efficiency opportunities for each major data center system.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Overland Storage Reports Fiscal 2009 3rd Quarter Results

SAN DIEGO – May 4, 2009 – Overland Storage, Inc. (Nasdaq: OVRL) today reported results for its fiscal 2009 third quarter and nine-month period ended March 31, 2009.

Net revenue for the fiscal 2009 third quarter was $22.3 million, compared with $31.8 million for the same quarter a year ago. The company reported a net loss of $3.3 million, or $0.26 per share, for the fiscal 2009 third quarter compared with a net loss of $4.9 million, or $0.39 per share, for the same quarter in the prior fiscal year.

For the first nine months of fiscal 2009, the company reported net revenue of $83.5 million, compared with $98.8 million for the same period in the prior fiscal year. The net loss for the first nine months of fiscal 2009 was $15.4 million, or $1.20 per share, compared with a net loss of $16.0 million, or $1.25 per share, in the first nine months of fiscal 2008.

The company noted that net revenue for the fiscal 2009 third quarter decreased 29.9 percent from the fiscal 2008 third quarter due to lower sales in both the OEM and branded channels, reflecting economic pullbacks by customers consistent with the industry sector overall. Total OEM revenue was down 49.8 percent compared to the fiscal 2008 third quarter. This trend continues to reflect the previously announced transition by the company’s largest OEM customer to a new product from an alternate supplier. Total branded revenue declined 17.2 percent compared to branded revenue in the third quarter of fiscal 2008. Sales in the Americas region were down 23.7 percent compared to the prior year third quarter and EMEA was down 30.9 percent. The APAC region, which represents a smaller overall percentage of sales, was down 42.6 percent. Partially offsetting these declines was an increase of 11.6 percent in revenue from the sales of services and spares.

Although revenue in the fiscal 2009 third quarter declined 29.9 percent from the fiscal 2008 third quarter, the gross profit of $6.3 million in the fiscal 2009 third quarter represents only a 18.2 percent drop from the $7.7 million in gross profit reported in the prior year quarter. The gross profit margin of 28.5 percent for the fiscal 2009 third quarter improved significantly over the fiscal 2008 third quarter margin of 24.2 percent.

Operating expenses of $9.6 million in the fiscal 2009 third quarter declined 22.6 percent, from $12.4 million in the fiscal 2008 third quarter, reflecting ongoing restructuring in response to revenue levels and current economic conditions. Compared to the fiscal 2008 third quarter, sales and marketing expenses declined 33.8 percent while R&D expenses declined 15.0 percent.

The total cash balance at the end of the quarter was $3.8 million, an increase of $0.8 million, from the end of the fiscal 2009 second quarter. Combined short-term and long-term debt increased $3.8 million during the fiscal 2009 third quarter, consisting of $1.5 million in additional borrowing under the Marquette financing agreement as well as a new $2.3 million secured promissory note from the company’s primary on-site service provider, which represents a conversion of amounts formerly included in accounts payable.

“Absent other dynamics, our March quarter is typically weaker than our Decemberquarter,” noted Eric Kelly, CEO of Overland Storage, Inc. “This year, global economic conditions that affected most technology companies exacerbated the seasonal weakness and resulted in lower than expected sales in both the company’s OEM and branded channels across all geographic regions.

“Our current focus at Overland is three-fold: (1) strengthening our balance sheet, (2) improving our business model and (3) delivering comprehensive solutions to address our customers’ requirements. We have made significant progress in each of these areas. At the end of March, we announced a $5 million international accounts receivable financing agreement with FGI Finance. This agreement complements the existing $9 million domestic receivable financing already in place with Marquette Commercial Finance. Additionally, we have implemented a number of changes to our business model, both internally and in conjunction with our strategic partners, which are resulting in better cash utilization and improvements to many of our key business metrics. Internally, we evaluated our team in terms of expertise and geographic location and are making adjustments to better position ourselves to execute efficiently in each discipline.

“Lastly, we have put substantial effort into our roadmap and expect to introduce a number of new, compelling solutions in the coming months,” concluded Kelly. “We firmly believe that healthy global demand exists and will continue to exist for mid-range storage, data protection and business continuity offerings that distinctively address our customers’ requirements.”

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