Green IT Trend Goes Global
Worldwide, businesses are looking for ways to cut their IT power and cooling costs, particularly given the rise in energy costs and an economy that is forcing IT departments to increase the services they provide while their budgets are shrinking. Top-level executives also are beginning to become more engaged in IT costs, and government regulators also are turning their attention to the amount of power consumed by data centers. Research company Gartner recently listed green IT and reshaping data centers as among the top five IT strategies for 2010.IBM kicked off its Project Big Green initiative in 2007, promising to spend $1 billion per year over three years to help businesses become more energy-efficient. Sams lauded the success of the program, saying businesses understand that better-designed data centers can help them save on not only capital expenses, but also operating expenses. Using energy-efficient power and cooling methods-such as using outside air to help reduce the heat, an approach called free cooling-and expanding the data center in a modular fashion can reduce upfront capital costs of new data centers by as much as 40 percent and enable businesses to reduce operational costs by as much as 50 percent, Sams said. Businesses are getting the idea, he said. About 18 months ago, about 12 percent of survey respondents said they were interested in a modular "pay as you grow" data center design. A more recent survey showed that 80 percent were interested. Enterprises also are showing increased interest in optimizing their existing data centers for energy efficiency, Sams said. Doing so can reduce energy consumption by as much as 50 percent, which can extend the life of a facility. IBM was able to avoid a $53 million addition to its data center in Lexington, Ky., by consolidating and virtualizing 60 percent of the servers and improving cooling capabilities, all of which increased the IT capacity of the facility by eight, he said. Businesses with multiple data centers also can save by consolidating facilities, Sams said. As an example he again cited IBM, which between 1997 and 2007 cut the number of its data centers from 235 to 12, doing away with $4.1 billion in costs over the past five years.
Green IT also has become a target for vendors, from component makers such as Intel and Advanced Micro Devices to top-tier companies such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems, which are making their products more energy-efficient in ways designed to help businesses drive down power costs.