How Green IT Measures Up

By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2008-10-22 Print this article Print

There are many products and processes that make companies many shades of green; here's how and where to determine the real ROI of going green.

Green IT has always been about cutting costs as well as saving the environment, but in these extremely tight economic times, green IT is the color of money.

In the last couple of years, several computing solutions have emerged as naturals in the quest to go green. Chief among these is server virtualization, but there are a host of tried-and-true methods for getting data centers and desktops to use less energy and reduce the demands of technology on resources: Turning off unused equipment, power management features in operating systems and computer hardware, and data deduplication are just some tools IT managers can leverage to reduce energy waste.

However, with all of these green solutions at hand, there are two problems that face IT managers in the quest for a more energy-efficient computing environment. The first is measuring what is in fact "green," and the second is actually implementing nuts-and-bolts features that make power conservation possible.

The current economic period will clearly place a premium on efficient operations, including IT. It is a happy coincidence, then, that green IT may conserve the most important business resource there is: cold, hard cash. Combined with a wave of capacity concerns about powering and cooling existing and new data centers, thought momentum is with forward-looking enterprises. However, IT managers are going to find that nimble retooling of existing infrastructure will be nearly impossible unless management systems are already in place that enable low-touch changes to system configurations.


Further, some changes to manage and control data center power require breaking one of the cardinal rules of IT: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

For example, during my recent test of Raritan's Dominion PX intelligent power distribution unit, I had to power down several components of eWEEK Labs' VMware ESX implementation to connect the systems to the power outlets in the Raritan device. Needless to say, a collection of eight systems-including servers, network gear and storage equipment-that had been working fine didn't work so well after the power cycle.

This is no fault of the Raritan device, but rather illustrated the weakness of my run book and management techniques in the lab. The important lesson is that rerigging equipment racks to take advantage of available power measurement, monitoring and control systems requires rigorously tested IT procedures.

However, it is necessary to implement power-measuring equipment to get a baseline understanding of your current energy usage. It turns out that the most important method for measuring the greenness of your IT operation grows from knowing the current computational cost per watt.

Cameron Sturdevant Cameron Sturdevant is the executive editor of Enterprise Networking Planet. Prior to ENP, Cameron was technical analyst at PCWeek Labs, starting in 1997. Cameron finished up as the eWEEK Labs Technical Director in 2012. Before his extensive labs tenure Cameron paid his IT dues working in technical support and sales engineering at a software publishing firm . Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his analysis is grounded in real-world concern. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at

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