Hewlett Packard has connected the dots between the trendy term "smart grid" and its work to make data centers more efficient.

Witness the HP Data Center Smart Grid line of products and services. Essentially, HP has integrated power and temperature sensors with displays and controls to help data center operators track and manage those variables.

It's all part of the race to integrate all the disparate data center efficiency systems, from more efficient cooling systems and less power-hungry servers to new sensor and control networks.

The competition includes giants like HP, IBM, BMC and CA as well as startups like SynapSense, Arch Rock, Sentilla, Power Assure and others (see Data Center Efficiency: Pulling it All Together and The Race for the Data Center's Brain).

Energy costs are a rising concern for data centers (see Data Centers Could Hit 'Resource Crisis'). Not only that, but some data centers can find their growth constrained by limits on the power available to them (see GE Looks to Data Center Efficiency and Sun: Data Center Efficiency for Everyone).

HP's new iteration on the topic includes its Thermal Logic-enabled line of server products, as well as the HP Performance-Optimized Datacenter, or POD - a set of servers in their own cooled cargo container for modular additions to data centers.

To manage it all, you've got HP Insight Control, its server management tool, which has power management capabilities, as well as the ability to track virtualized servers (see Virtualization, the Next Wave).

There's also the HP Data Center Environmental Edge system to visualize, analyze and measure power and cooling parameters in the data center.

The comparison of a data center to a utility distribution grid isn't that farfetched.  After all, many data centers have their own dedicated utility substations, making them little grids in their own right.