A Fresh Green Start

By Stan Gibson  |  Posted 2008-01-22 Print this article Print

Although many IT professionals are cutting energy use incrementally through a variety of measures, the opportunity to make big gains arises when an organization decides to break ground on a new data center. And data center design is a critical area of IT involvement: 87 percent of respondents in the survey indicated that IT pros at their companies are involved in creating, approving or giving advice on data center design.

That was the situation at Bryant University, in Smithfield, R.I. "We had to construct a new data center, so we took every opportunity to be energy-conscious and take advantage of energy efficiencies," said Rich Siedzik, director of computer and telecommunications services at the university. "A lot of it is economy, but when we have an opportunity to be more responsible, we take it."

A major component of Bryant's efficiency push was virtualization. Siedzik said he was able to consolidate 47 percent of Bryant's servers using VMware solutions and IBM's LPAR (logical partitioning) technology. He also deployed new precision cooling technology from American Power Conversion, which enabled him to deploy dense arrays of blade servers in an energy-efficient manner.

As at FN Manufacturing, these virtual moves have left Bryant with room to grow: With most new applications being run on virtual hosts, there is room to add more blade servers in the future, Siedzik said.

For eWEEK Labs' 5 Steps to Green IT, click here.

Siedzik isn't stopping there. His next move is to replace fat-client PCs with thin clients where possible, particularly for administrators, librarians and computers in common areas.

He is also using a new campus network to track heating and lighting use across the campus. "We can turn off expensive audiovisual equipment remotely if someone leaves it on. We can use automation to shut off devices in common areas," said Siedzik.

But there's more to it than automation. Getting members of the community to do their part is essential, too. "You have to make them aware they should turn off lights and turn off computers," Siedzik said.

Bob Moore, group manager for the marketing and strategy organization at Hewlett-Packard, who advises HP customers on green strategies, stressed the need to look at many pieces of the puzzle at the same time. Money spent on a new server with a low-energy-use chip will be wasted if the air-conditioning system is outmoded and wasteful, chilling huge chunks of air rather than focusing a cool stream on a hot server. Similarly, it makes no sense to power up and cool storage subsystems that may not contain any useful data-or any data at all, for that matter.

Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on Zcast.tv. He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.

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