In an interview with eWEEK, IBM's resident green IT expert, Steven Sams, talks about Big Blue's efforts to help its customers go green.
The explosion of connectivity, online applications and new services has
driven the average business to increase its server capacity by six times and
storage by 69 times over the last 10 years. The increased demand to keep up
with growth and manage rising energy costs, as well as increased concern for
the environment, places significant pressure on aging data center
infrastructures. Many companies are under pressure to reduce their carbon
footprint. While "going green" and growing business appear to be
diametrically opposed goals, IBM has
pioneered technologies that demonstrate how green IT can actually provide a
much more efficient and competitive infrastructure to support emerging business
IBM's resident green IT expert, Steven
Sams, spoke with eWEEK's Darryl K. Taft about Big Blue's efforts in this area.
Sams is vice president of Site and Facilities Services at IBM.
He is responsible for a worldwide organization that is dedicated to helping
clients identify their requirements, current capabilities and best options for
data centers. This includes building new facilities and optimizing, relocating
or consolidating existing facilities. The Site and Facilities Services
organization that Sams oversees includes 700 specialists in more than 40
countries that have built over 30 million square feet of customer raised floor.
Can you discuss some of the ways IBM has been promoting green IT and how IBM's Global Technology Services (GTS) is
helping clients redesign data centers?
We've focused on designing data centers to be the most cost-effective
solutions while providing flexibility to meet clients' unpredictable changes in
IT demand-and to do it in a manner which is faster to deployment. In the past
few years we've designed over 400 data centers around the world with a modular,
"plug and play" approach, which has provided clients with 20 to 30
percent lower energy costs than traditional methods. The client response has
been tremendous-according to recent industry surveys, over 80 percent of
clients plan to adopt the plug-and-play approach, a drastic increase from a
reported 11 percent only two years ago.
Would you explain the distinction
between the "plug and play" approach that IBM provides in this space versus the
traditional data center touted by other providers?
A traditional approach includes a large, monolithic data center build that
is filled over time as capacity needs of the business increase. This approach
was effective when technology power and cooling requirements remained
relatively stable and business growth was predictable. IBM's
modular, plug-and-play approach is more cost-effective and flexible by allowing
clients to build in smaller increments, pay as they grow and add capacity when
needed. Consequently, deferring as much as 40 to 50 percent of the capital and
operating costs. Along with increased changes in technology rates and
unpredictability in most businesses, our approach (a design with additional
space for components such as UPS, chillers
and cooling) allows the data center to be more flexible by adopting to change.
IBM's collaboration with the world's leading
providers of data center physical infrastructure equipment has helped to bring
out this vision of "plug and play" data centers to market. Can
you discuss the role of this ecosystem?
We believe that increasingly efficient use of capital and operational costs
cannot be driven by one company. Rather, the technologies should encompass the
expertise from multiple companies. IBM is
establishing a new leadership approach to data center design that helps to
solve many of the past cost and flexibility challenges-allowing clients to plug
in more cooling and power capacity as necessary. The mechanical and electrical
equipment which runs the data center represents over 60 percent of the capital
costs to build a new data center. IBM
believes working collaboratively with the world's leading suppliers in power,
cooling, monitoring and management and network cabling are critical to the
adoption of a data center which can scale on-demand and significantly reduce
capital and operating costs. Moreover, these partnerships allow us to go to
market on a global scale with innovative solutions.