For IT departments looking to cut down on costs and complex infrastructures, green data centers and technologies offer a good return on investment.
Enterprises and companies of all sizes are
always on the lookout for ways to decrease their energy consumption, whether
it's to save money during budget-crunch time, to streamline and create a more
efficient infrastructure, or simply a desire to operate a green environment.
The question then for IT managers who are
considering these types of projects is where to begin? A good place to focus
these efforts is the data center, one of the biggest energy hogs in
If an enterprise or even a small business is
looking for justification for this type of change, there is much evidence to
support at least considering a greener data center.
For example, a report issued in September by
London-based research firm DatacenterDynamics shows that data centers around the
world are expected to use 19 percent more energy in the coming 12 months than
they had in the previous year.
In addition, more than one-third of companies
say they expect at least one of their data centers to run out of power, cooling
or space sometime within the next year, according to an Uptime Institute report
that surveyed 525 data center owners and operators in the United States, Europe
The Aberdeen Group has
surveyed thousands of organizations worldwide in the past 12 months, and the
research shows that enterprise technology decision makers are preparing for an
enormous increase in the pace of data growth, as well as the variety of data
services that will be required to manage that growth, said Russell Klein, an
analyst with the Boston-based research firm.
Regardless of whether
the actual physical IT components are located on-premise or hosted by a cloud
computing services provider, the company is still paying for the
infrastructure, said Klein. As a result, all businesses-large and small-should be
concerned about controlling data center costs, including energy consumption.
Fortunately, enterprises and other organizations
can take steps to reduce data center energy bills. One way to reduce power is
by using more energy-efficient equipment, such as blade servers, and housing the
equipment in more eco-friendly facilities.
For example, Earth Rangers, a nonprofit
organization dedicated to educating children about green practices, transformed
its data center in part by deploying blade servers. Earth Rangers, based in
Woodbridge, Ontario, also adopted continuous data protection software, which
allows full restoration of data and services from one site to another within
minutes of a disaster. By using this software instead of traditional tape, the
organization avoids burning fossil fuels to truck tape libraries off-site.
The data center is housed in the Earth Rangers
Centre, a showcase of sustainable technology that the organization says uses 80
percent less energy than traditional buildings its size. In addition, the facility
incorporates an eco-efficient green roof.
"Everything we do has an impact on the
environment," said Rob DiStefano, IT systems manager at Earth Rangers. "We've
created a demonstration site for other organizations to see what is possible
with a small footprint by virtualizing and saving energy. A lot of companies
are starting to do this because of the cost savings and the reduced green
Another big energy saver is server and storage
virtualization, which many organizations have adopted as part of their server-consolidation
In Sugar Land, Texas, Imperial Sugar began a
virtualization project about five years ago, partly to reduce the number of its
physical servers. As a result, the company slashed the number of servers from
131 to 96 and decreased data center capital spending by about 45 percent a
As part of the effort, Imperial Sugar also
replaced some older servers with more energy-efficient blades, which helped
decrease electricity and cooling costs.
Many organizations are turning to cloud
computing services to reduce their reliance on internal servers. This can also contribute
to lower energy consumption. Imperial Sugar started migrating some select applications,
such as training and predictive maintenance systems, to public cloud services.
This helped the company further reduce its reliance on internal servers.
Another way to potentially reduce data center
energy use is to adopt energy management systems that deploy tracking and
sensor technology, such as radio frequency identification (RFID), to monitor
conditions, such as temperature and air pressure.
monitoring and management systems take advantage of new server and storage
virtualization technologies," said Klein.
management platforms are sophisticated in distributing workload, -spinning
down' unneeded resources and leveraging predictive analytics to optimize
load-balancing activities," Klein added."What those systems lack is accurate,
real-time data streams to feed the analytics engine. RFID monitoring provides
It is likely more companies will implement these
and other methods of reducing power consumption in the data center as they look
for ways to run more energy-efficient IT operations, save money and build