10 Practical Ways to Make Your IT System Greener, More Efficient

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2012-12-28

10 Practical Ways to Make Your IT System Greener, More Efficient

It's a general mandate that data center managers and IT administrators at all levels need to keep power bills as low as possible. Many new-generation data centers are models of 21st century efficiency, but even effectively run systems can always use some advice on how to do things even better.

Minimizing power usage sets into play an environmentally- and fiscally-friendly chain of events: cooler-running data centers, a smaller carbon footprint, longer lives for capital equipment and lower power bills each month.

Everyone wants this, of course, but the search is ongoing for the perfectly run IT system. With this in mind, eWEEK spoke with executives at Worldwide Supply, which specializes in secondary networking hardware and services. It also offers details of initiatives in which companies can immediately engage to enhance their green IT program.

"We create programs that are viable options for companies who want to improve their green IT programs but are struggling with ways to achieve that in a budget-friendly way," Worldwide Supply CEO Jay VanOrden said.

Here are 10 ways an enterprise can start or extend a budget-conscious green IT program.

1. Extend the life of equipment by buying used spares and replacement parts.

Despite efforts by manufacturers to sell new equipment and pressure businesses into pricey upgrades, a green approach is to buy used authentic parts to help extend the life of the equipment. This practice is not only environmentally-conscious, it can reduce IT budgets by 50 percent or more.

2. Recycle equipment that is no longer useful.

Many manufacturers do not have take-back programs for no longer useful equipment. It is critical to partner with a company that can uninstall unused equipment, remove the equipment from the facilities, securely wipe proprietary data from equipment, refurbish equipment to reuse or sell, dismantle equipment to extract valuable materials like precious metals that can be sold, and dispose of equipment and hazardous materials in an environmentally-friendly way.

3. Keep equipment out of landfills by selling it.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, less than 20 percent of all electronics are reused or recycled. More than 400 million used electronics make it to landfills in the United States every year. Selling unused or uninstalled equipment means less waste material and helps other companies find equipment needed to run their network without having to buy new equipment.

4. Take advantage of energy-efficient features of equipment.

An easy way to reduce power usage is to cut power to empty slots or ports within the equipment. Scripts can also be written that reduce power to equipment, depending on activity criteria.

10 Practical Ways to Make Your IT System Greener, More Efficient

5. Select the right equipment cabinet.

Although network equipment that uses side-to-side cooling can be fit more efficiently into racks, equipment using front-to-back cooling ensures no hot air is pushed into adjacent racks that can cause equipment to overheat and become unusable. Buying a cabinet that forces front-to-back cooling is a cost-effective way to make certain equipment using side-to-side cooling will not overheat.

6. Reduce carbon footprint by turning off peripheral equipment.

IT managers can significantly reduce power usage by implementing these simple things: replacing personal printers with high-efficiency multi-task printers; requiring workers to power off computers at the end of each day; forbiding the use of screensavers; and ensuring new computers have an auto-sleep feature.

7. Buying used equipment lowers manufacturing emissions.

Leading manufacturers state that more than 60 percent of their emissions come through the production process. Longer networking equipment usage can mean less new-product manufacturing, thus less emissions.

8. Take a temperature check.

Ensuring that you follow the manufacturer's recommended temperature range within which equipment optimally functions is critical to make certain the equipment is not over-burdened. It is also important to understand what the lower end of the optimal temperature range is to determine if there could be energy savings enjoyed by lowering server room temperatures.

9. Consider energy-monitoring tools.

Affordable software packages are available that can identify energy wastes and aid in lowering energy use. These monitoring tools provide a road map to work from to ensure energy consumption is maximized.

10. Mandate the use of data deduplication.

Encouraging employees not to store multiple copies of the same document in various areas will help save storage space. This waste can hinder hardware efficiency and add to energy costs.

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