The phrase “smart energy” is an industry buzzword that is getting a lot of attention these days, especially as data center operators realize that overprovisioning—and overpaying for—power is just plain dumb. Sure, running out of electricity is never an option, but why is allocating 40% of your operations budget for power and cooling considered a viable solution to the power problem? Smart energy is a nice “placeholder”, but for most power vendors, they think “hardware” and their R&D investments reflect that strategy. However, the right solution strategy to address the structural problems facing power today is at the software layer. Enter Software Defined Power.

Energy consumption is nearing all-time highs while innovations throughout the power stack lag behind improvements made to servers, storage and networks. Understandably, power vendors are reluctant to introduce unfamiliar technologies (software intelligenceJ) into existing product lines, but it’s time to take steps forward or risk being displaced altogether by more disruptive solutions.

For example, Bloom Energy has developed a completely unique distributed power generation system featuring fuel cell energy technology that replaces traditional uninterruptible power systems and generators with a solution to produce clean, reliable and cost-effective power. In recalling his reaction to the company’s breakthrough during a recent Data Center Knowledge podcast, Peter Gross, VP of Mission Critical Systems at Bloom Energy, said it was the “single, most interesting, disruptive and transformational solution for the data center, which by the way, didn’t evolve very much from the time I started in the mid-80s.” Yikes – not much change since the mid-80s, when every other layer of the technology stack had made major upgrades?

The layers of the power stack need an upgrade – and Software Defined Power is the way to do it! SDP is the fastest route to integrate software intelligence into existing uninterruptible power systems, power distribution units, generators, battery backups and power supply units. As the creator of Software Defined Power, VPS is betting big that adding a critical layer of software intelligence is the key to optimizing energy utilization.

The addition of a software control system, as Uptime Institute’s Andy Lawrence calls it, would “sit above the hard-wired power switching or power controls in a data center or between the data center and the utility.”  As the brains of the operation, software defined power is best suited to solve persistent power problems, such as releasing stranded capacity and alleviating power constraints during peak demand times. Early SDP pilots already are proving that software virtualization has earned a well-deserved and much-needed place in the power industry.

Now, it’s time for the power vendors to step up efforts to improve efficiency and innovation or risk being displaced or becoming obsolete. As a group, they need to take a more proactive role in SDP upgrades. The most forward-looking power companies will embrace SDP quickly, which will earn them recognition as important stakeholders in shaping data center innovations for years to come.