The tipping point for green IT

By John Lamb, ITworld |  Green IT, book, consolidation

This is part of a regular series that highlights new books and their authors. Also in this series: Brian Berenbach on requirements engineering, J. Peter Bruzzese on Exchange Server 2007, Joel Scambray on exposing the hacker's advantage, and Scott Hogg on IPv6 security. (You can find all the installments in this series here.)


Greening IT

In 2006, the financial institutions at Canary Wharf in London were told that the power infrastructure could not supply power for additional servers at their data centers. In recent years financial organizations had been adding racks of blade servers, greatly increasing the power required per square foot in the data center. Each blade server requires about the same energy as larger, older servers. Canary Wharf didn’t have the power infrastructure to support the increased demands.

A similar limit of the power structure occurred during 2008 for data centers south of 14th Street in Manhattan. But power restrictions to data centers based on inadequate power infrastructure is only a part of the problem. Data center floor space has also become a significant concern for data centers, especially in large cities. Often a company runs out of data center floor space with no easy capability to expand.

Green IT built on IT virtualization provides a good way to help mitigate these data center power and space issues and allows you to reduce equipment and system management costs for your data center. Virtualization can cut power requirements by 50% and also reduces data center floor space requirements. Using virtual server techniques to replace ten stand-alone physical servers with one large physical box that includes ten virtual servers can easily reduce the data center floor space required by 80%. Practicing green IT benefits all aspects of your data center: reduction in electric power, server cost, data-center floor space, and management of the physical boxes.

5 keys for success

1. Communicate green IT plans and appoint an energy czar
Establish a baseline on which to start measuring the impact of an organization's energy-saving initiatives. Then, communicate your proposed energy-efficiency initiatives by informing all employees about the plans and goals to save energy via green IT. Besides communicating with your employees, set up an organization to drive the effort and make one person responsible.

2. Consolidate and virtualize
Consolidating IT operations and using virtualization to reduce server footprint and energy use are the most well-recognized and most often implemented efficiency strategies of the past few years.

3. Install energy efficient cooling units
In-row or supplemental cooling units are much more energy efficient than traditional computer room air conditioner units. The in-row units typically enclose a row or two of servers, and the backs of all the servers are pointed into a single 'hot' aisle. Heat in the aisle is contained by a roof and end-row doors. This allows cooling to be applied directly to the heat source, rather than trying to cool after the heat is dispersed into the general data center floor.

4. Measure and optimize
There are several groups (including the Green Grid) expected to release new metrics that businesses will be able to use to measure the power-usage effectiveness of facilities infrastructure equipment. Most businesses can already readily identify areas where infrastructure optimization can achieve increased efficiency by simply monitoring and measuring their existing infrastructure equipment. The EPA is also working to create improved green IT metrics.

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