Verizon, Green Grid Join Forces to Update International Data Centers

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-12-16

Verizon, Green Grid Join Forces to Update International Data Centers

Verizon, as one of the world's 10 largest telecommunications service providers, also ranks as one of the world's largest users of IT and electrical energy. Company managers are well aware of the huge impact the company's data centers have on the environment.

To its credit-and to the credit of a growing number of large corporations that overlooked environmental concerns in favor of profits in years gone by-Verizon is being very purposeful about how it goes about upgrading and refurbishing those data centers and its offices around the world.

For a look at the top eight green IT highlights of 2008, click here.

Verizon's three operating companies-Verizon Telecom, Verizon Wireless and Verizon Business-employ 228,600 people in 75 countries, occupy about 32,000 facilities, operate some 59,000 vehicles and partner with about 3,800 suppliers to source material.

In 2007, Verizon corporate consumed 9.4 billion kilowatt hours of electricity along with 60 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel. As its networks are upgraded, the company continues to manage vast amounts of electronic equipment-19,000 tons, give or take a few pounds. In the process, it also uses 36 tons of cell phone batteries and 18,000 tons of paper and cardboard.

The company now is undergoing a major transformation from data centers that were built in the 1980s and 1990s, and is replacing the older, more power-hungry servers and storage arrays with newer, faster and more power-sipping models with cooler-running multicore processors from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.

Virtualization, Deduplication Helping the Green Cause

Using virtualization to consolidate more workloads onto fewer machines, deduplication to process cleaner data and tiered storage to make best use of stored data has begun to pay the company back for its multibillion-dollar set of upgrades it is now undertaking.

Moving into 2009, the company has joined forces with the Green Grid, which has published some suggested power-saving metrics for next-generation data centers.

The Green Grid is a global consortium dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in data centers and business computing ecosystems.  The nonprofit group is focused on defining meaningful, user-centric models and metrics; developing standards, measurement methods, processes and new technologies to improve data center performance against the defined metrics; and promoting the adoption of energy-efficient standards, processes, measurements and technologies.

Next-gen WAN optimization can speed up business and save energy.
Read how here. 

Verizon, along with its biggest competitor, AT&T, has become a card-carrying member of the Green Grid and is putting its metrics to work in its data center networks.

Verizon generally has been the more aggressive of the two largest U.S. telcos when it comes to environmentally friendly strategies and technologies.

Here are some of the key data points in the Green Grid's recent whitepaper (PDF), "Green Grid Metrics: Data Center Infrastructure Efficiency (DCiE) Detailed Analysis."

  • Complete knowledge and understanding of each component in the data center and its power requirements.
  • Knowledge and charting of total facility power; data center input power; power for building lighting, security and cooling.
  • Knowledge and charting of minimum measurement at interval power: Level 1 (week/month), Level 2 (daily) and Level 3 (continuous). 
  • Knowledge and use of the DCiE formula, which is as follows: IT equipment power divided by total facility power; this figure comprises the actual DCiE.

In order for DCiE to become a global metric, two important requirements that all must follow are:

  • The data center manager must correctly classify each subcomponent that comprises the metric's two core contributors; and
  • The data center manager must obtain the data inputs that create DCiE's two core contributors in the same method; i.e., utilize a consistent method for data capture; actual measurements must always be used.

Verizon and AT&T both have begun implementing these data points.

Key Points in Green Grids New Data Center Metrics

Here is a list of some of the Green Grid-developed metrics that Verizon is now integrating into its huge telecommunications system:

Data center initiatives: Introduced measures to improve cooling efficiency and reduce energy consumption at the largest data centers, where the company hosts and manages servers for its largest customers. Additional server consolidation and virtualization measures are also under way.

External data center initiatives: Now encouraging its partners, which are a number of the world's most reputable equipment manufacturers, to adopt energy efficiency standards.

Energy reduction efforts:  Reducing energy use has been a key driver in its internal green initiatives. The company started with simple, common-sense actions such as adjusting thermostats, turning off lights in vending machines, and installing motion sensors to shut off lights as a part of its original energy conservation program. 

It all adds up-particularly across a 229,000-person, worldwide organization.

In 2007, these energy conservation measures, coupled with the use of technologies such as hypalon roofing and alternative energy sources, reduced the company's carbon emissions by an estimated 75,000 metric tons.

By consolidating some of its older data centers-using virtualization and data deduplication throughout-the company was able to consolidate some of its real estate holdings. The company also fielded a smaller vehicle fleet, thanks to fewer data center locations. Recycling and waste management policies and programs also were updated.

Goals for 2009: The company will implement a new energy consumption standard to support a 20 percent reduction of energy use in new telecom equipment.

As a result of its green initiatives in 2007, Verizon helped prevent an estimated 332,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from flowing into the atmosphere.

They're not blowing smoke, either. Those are substantial cleaner-air numbers.

Consequences of Not Going Green Can Be Costly

For all the current talk about the importance of "greening" IT for the common good, little is said to enterprises and technology providers about the long-term consequences of not improving environmental sustainability.

"Failure to do so risks incurring unnecessary costs, the potential loss of competitive position, or becoming the target of unwanted attention by environmental pressure groups, the media and politicians," Gartner analyst Simon Mingay said.

For many companies, this is sufficient incentive to learn how green IT can save both money and the environment. 


Rocket Fuel