Phasing in the Green
During the time we were writing our Green IT book, we came across a great many new green products and solutions. The last few years have seen an explosion of general and IT-related technologies touting to help an organization be greener. As we continued our research and writing, it became clear that going green was becoming easier and easier.
This is good news for all of us; however, one of the first things any organization is going to consider when buying new technology is the initial cost. It turns out that many of the green products and solutions arenâ€™t the cheapest options, and it may take some time before the scales of finance tip in greenâ€™s favor. So how does an organization go green â€“ you know, do the right thing for planet â€“ while doing the right thing for the bottom line?
Low Hanging Fruit â€“ The Technology Refresh.
One of the best opportunities to go green is when an organization is faced with the natural process of replacing aging technology with something new. In IT, this can happen frequently as there are often new technologies and solutions that offer a business significant value. With an existing technology in place, the organization will already have a good grasp on the fixed costs, and much of the operational costs associated with the technology. A good example is laptop and desktop computers â€“ a company knows how much each unit costs and how much support and other costs are. They may have even estimated how much energy each consumes over a given period of time and if not, this can be estimated without too much effort. For example, the vendorâ€™s website likely mentions how much power the device consumes.
If one of the easiest ways to go green is by simply phasing in the green technology when itâ€™s time to update something, where do these opportunities most often lie? Well, it could be almost anything from copiers, printers, laptops, desktops, monitors, servers, uninterruptable power supplies, routers, switches, phone systems, and data center components like HVAC systems and generators. Even pagers and cell phones present the opportunity to improve on â€œgreennessâ€.
Every single one of these technologies has at least a few green offerings. Look for energy savings through efficiency (improved power supplies, system design) or improved capacity (read virtualization). Also keep an eye out for products offering a reduction of consumables, low or no toxic emissions or components, or ones that are simply designed to last longer or be more recyclable when they are at the end of their useful life.
Baby Steps â€“ Small Changes Can Have Huge Impacts
Letâ€™s take a look at two examples:
First consider how something like virtualization will help your organization. If a server fails or it is time to replace several servers, virtualization can allow you to replace several servers with perhaps a single server. In environments large and small, this might mean you can reduce the number of running servers while providing the same (or even improved) level of service.
For instance, Letâ€™s consider replacing eight aging servers with a 12GHz multi-core server (a four-core device with 3GHz per core) running a virtualization product like Microsoft Virtual Server or VMWare ESX. After getting the new server up and running, we could have all eight servers virtualized into a single, more powerful server platform while giving each server essentially 1.5GHz of processing power.
While the scenario above is very simplified one, you can see how virtualization should always be considered when updating servers. You would rarely put just one virtualized server to work in your organization (think about performance and redundancy), but if you were able to reduce number physical servers you have running today youâ€™d save huge amounts of money upfront, not to mention the costs youâ€™ll save in power and cooling. Iâ€™ll talk more about virtualization in an upcoming blog.
Another example is one where an organization can save good money by reducing energy consumption by replacing older laptop and desktop computers with those that are more energy efficient.
For example, Dell offers a couple of energy calculators on their energy webpage. True, they use only Dell computers for their comparisons (and Iâ€™m not a Dell salesman), but letâ€™s use their data for a quick and easy way to make my point:
A baseline configured OptiPlex GX620 system will use 966 Kilowatt hours (KWh) and will cost US$96.60 per year in energy. If the same computer is purchased with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor (versus the baselineâ€™s Intel Pentium D), Dell Energy Smart power management (the baseline doesnâ€™t have it), and a 17â€ flat panel monitor (as opposed to a 17â€ CRT), total power consumption on the green machine is 210 KWh, with a total cost of $36.80 per year â€“ a savings of about 60%. Now, consider those savings duplicated by hundreds, or even thousands of workstations across your organization. The impact is even more amazing when many organizations do this â€“ think of the huge amounts of energy saved when millions of laptops and PC are replaced with more efficient units (when they need to be replaced, of course).
Naturally, you can get different system configurations from all kinds of vendors â€“ but the point is clear: If you spend some time finding more energy efficient alternatives, you will save money in the long run. And if you simply add those systems as part of your regular technology refresh process, it will be almost painless going green while saving some green (bad pun intended â€“ with apologies).