The tipping point for green IT
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.)
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.
5. Implement efficient applications and deduplicate data
Software and application efficiency can be very significant for green IT. Optimizing an application to make it run 20% faster will also reduce the energy used to run the application. Data deduplication uses algorithms to dramatically compress the amount of storage space needed. Deduplication can enable a compression rate of between 3:1 and 10:1, allowing businesses to reduce their need for additional storage equipment and associated tapes and disks, all of which saves energy.
1. Don't wait for the 11th hour. Start a sustainable data center now.
The biggest savings of all for going green is to create a culture and infrastructure that exploits technology for creating a sustainable data center. With green concepts and projects a data center can grow in capability/capacity while continuing to use the same or less space and energy.
2. Don't start without an enterprise goal in mind. Create lasting greenness.
Small-scale will yield small results. Large-scale will yield bigger results. Often every project looks good and green by itself, but when added up, a sub-optimal data center and complex infrastructure has been created. Start a green program with goals in mind.
3. Don't eliminate high availability and disaster recovery capabilities in your effort to eliminate redundancy.
High availability and disaster recovery can be efficient and be designed into server configurations in a green way. Engines can now be added non-disruptively to almost all platforms reducing the need for extra servers. No longer is an idle server needed for "what if" scenarios. Configuring the ability to non-disruptively add (and reduce) capacity for production or disaster recovery without having idle or under-utilized servers significantly reduces the number of footprints and slashes the energy consumed in the data center.
4. Don't use a haphazard approach to server consolidation.
An integrated approach to server consolidation is necessary to optimize savings. More than a single methodology needs to be applied to get the fewest number of servers. Here are some guidelines:
- Migrate servers delivering the largest savings first. This primes the pump and generates enthusiasm and savings for other green projects.
- Eliminate assets with lowest utilization first. These assets are not pulling their weight when measured by watts/logical image or other common metrics to compare servers.
- Identify assets with an upcoming compelling event to mitigate expense (upgrade, move, asset refresh). It is always easier to have a positive ROI and be green within the normal refresh of assets.
- Aggregate by customer work portfolio to leverage strong customer buy-in. Ease of migration assists speed and successful workload migrations.
- Start with the oldest technology first as it uses the most power and provides the least performance.
- Focus on freeing up contiguous raised floor space. This enables growth and the addition of energy efficient new IT and facilities equipment.
- Provision new applications to a large centralized server using virtualization technology.
5. Don't start your consolidation efforts without first having a baseline of current energy use.
Measure and put the costs of energy where they are incurred. Automated measuring and billing of energy consumption makes usage part of cost and green decisions. Without energy and cooling knowledge, requirements are unknown, inaccurate and often over-planned, leading to inefficiencies. Use commonly accepted methodologies such as the Power Usage Efficiency ratio (Total power / IT equipment power = PUE) from the Green Grid Consortium or the Energy Efficiency ratio.
I'd like to emphasize that we all need to be part of the solution for the climate crisis. The motivation for IT executives, and all of us in IT, should be enhanced by the principle of corporate social responsibility. There is a growing body of evidence that companies can do well by doing good.
The Internet’s ubiquitous connectivity has created new relationships among businesses, customers, employees and partners. People now have access to massive amounts of information and opinions about products and company practices. This information is available in every part of the globe, every minute of every day. Collaboration over the Internet is taking place during a time of increased visibility of corporate actions, a time when customers’ perceptions of companies are fundamentally changing. Having your company become part of the "green wave" is an additional motivation to pursue green IT.
John Lamb is a Senior Certified IT Architect with IBM Global Services in New York. He has authored or co-authored numerous technical papers and articles and five books on computer technologies including the May, 2009 book: “The Greening of IT: How Companies Can Make a Difference for the Environment.” ISBN 0137150830 http://www.amazon.com/Greening-Companies-Make-Difference-Envionment/dp/0... . John holds a Ph.D. in Engineering Science from the University of California at Berkeley. He is currently working on an IT outsourcing project for a customer in South Africa. He can be reached at email@example.com.
"The Greening of IT: How Companies Can Make a Difference for the Environment", published by IBM Press, May 2009, ISBN 0137150830, Copyright 2009 by International Business Machines Corporation. For more info, please visit www.ibmpressbooks.com/title/0137150830 or Safari Books Online subscribers can access the book here: http://safari.informit.com/9780136117544