5 Steps to Green

By Tiffany Maleshefski  |  Posted 2007-10-12 Print this article Print


Talk to your vendor to determine all the power-saving capabilities of the operating systems you have deployed and, when looking to upgrade, put "power-saving capabilities" on your criteria list.

On the hardware side, chip manufacturers have been ahead of the curve when it comes to innovating in ways that will conserve power. Advanced Micro Devices new quad-core processor, for example, doubles the power output of AMDs dual-core processor yet uses the same amount of energy and thermal power. That means more bang for your wattage and, incidentally, your buck.

Next time you update your desktops or servers or are preparing to buy new, be sure to visit www.epeat.net, home of the Electronic Productivity Assessment Tool created by a nonprofit organization called the Green Electronics Council. The tool uses standards set forth by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers to measure a products environmental performance. You can see how desktops, notebooks and monitors from a variety of vendors rank in terms of their environmental and performance attributes.

GreenCitizen estimates that a single computer monitor contains, on average, 6 pounds of lead and that computer screens and television screens account for 40 percent of all lead present in landfills. Most of that lead is contained in the monitors glass screens. Once a monitor makes it to a landfill and is crushed, the potential for lead mixing with water and seeping into the soil is high.

Today, there are about 70 million computers in U.S. landfills, according to research conducted by Carnegie Mellon University.

As mentioned earlier, responsible recycling is one way to ensure toxic materials in electronics equipment dont contaminate groundwater, release pollutants into the air or harm employees. But an even better solution is to see to it that poisonous substances such as lead, cadmium and mercury are banned altogether from the manufacturing and design process.

Apple, for one, bans a long list of toxic substances from its products, including asbestos, cadmium, mercury and lead. In 2006, the company stopped using CRT monitors, which contain lead oxide and barium, both of which are believed to have adverse effects on human health, including brain damage.

Apple also eliminated lead from its batteries and will phase out its use of brominated flame retardants and polyvinyl chloride in 2008.

At Intel, engineers comply with the chip makers design-for-the-environment process and find appropriate substitutes to agents known for emitting greenhouse gases. Engineers are working to replace isopropyl alcohol, a volatile solvent known to contribute to smog. Isopropyl alcohol is currently used during Intels manufacturing process to clean the edge of a wafer during fabrication.

IT managers can take a page from these companies and implement the same kinds of oversight on their own or their partners manufacturing processes. In addition, when developing RFPs (requests for proposal), IT managers should ask questions related to vendors manufacturing processes, such as whether the products to be purchased are made of environmentally sensitive materials or take advantage of recycled plastics.

If a potential vendor partner cant or wont provide details, especially as they pertain to the reduction or elimination of toxic materials, go with another vendor. The EPAs EPEAT is also useful in this process. The tools rating system is designed to enable purchasers to specify environmentally friendly PCs and monitors in their RFPs.

The Green Grid is a nonprofit consortium comprising several high-tech companies that work to find energy-efficient solutions for powering and cooling data centers. Solutions include ensuring proper configuration of server software, with power-saving features enabled to maximize a servers efficiency.

Rightsizing physical infrastructure to the workloads at hand can knock as much as 50 percent off electrical bills in real-world installations, according to The Green Grid. The group recommends that companies begin installing power-efficient equipment, such as best-in-class uninterruptible power supply systems that guarantee 70 percent less energy loss than legacy UPSes at typical loads.

IT managers should consider a data center floor design that allows for hot-aisle and cold-aisle configurations, as well as proper placement of vented tiles. The Green Grid also recommends closely coupled cooling-in other words, putting cooling systems closer to heat sources. This provides shorter air paths for moving cool air, resulting in far less power needed to push the air. Also recommended is use of energy-efficient lighting, such as Energy Star-qualified compact fluorescent bulbs that use 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and are estimated by the EPA to last 10 times longer.

Blade Network Technologies suggests several ways data centers can reduce their demands on the power grid, including replacing multiple data center fabrics used for server-to-server, server-to-storage and server-to-client communication with Ethernet/IP everywhere. The company also has developed a low-power blade server embedded with 10 Gigabit Ethernet that it says encourages a flattened data center network and consolidated infrastructure, resulting in IT cost savings.

Though virtualization has been kicking around for some time, IT managers and developers are only now getting hip to all the technology offers. By consolidating workloads, virtualization helps managers lower energy consumption and costs by reducing the number of machines and servers a company needs.

Virtualization software breaks through the limitations established by x86 computer hardware, which was designed to run single operating systems and a single application. Virtualization enables deployment of multiple operating systems and applications on the same computer at the same time.

Virtualization solutions company 2Virtualize estimates that for every 200 servers virtualized, IT departments stand to save $1 million over three years. Smaller companies can benefit, too: 2Virtualize calculates a savings of $963 and 9,636 kilowatt-hours for every server virtualized. Reducing servers through virtualization also means lower cooling costs and less floor space needed.

The virtualization model demands an SOA (service-oriented architecture) and a simplified infrastructure that coordinates technologies, reduces the server footprint and takes advantage of hybrid systems.

However, virtualizing on a single physical computer is only one small step toward energy efficiency and financial savings. Companies such as VMware offer virtualization platforms that can run across hundreds of interconnected physical computers and storage devices, creating an entire virtual infrastructure.

IBM, using in-house software, has launched an aggressive virtualization program for network storage devices that provides a full servers file-serving and file-sharing abilities using a fraction of the hardware necessary for traditional network storage setups.

IT managers should consider desktop, storage and backup virtualization to free up precious resources and reap financial savings.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel