SAN FRANCISCO-There’s no one way for an enterprise to develop a green strategy and achieving a more energy efficient data center can prove difficult for IT managers without a firm plan and full company support.
Those were the themes discussed at the opening of The Green Grid’s first Technical Forum and members’ meeting, which officially kicked off Feb. 5. The goal of The Green Grid consortium, which formed a year ago and now boasts 150 members, is advancing energy efficiency in the data center.
While still a relatively new initiative, The Green Grid is using its first technical conference to discuss four new “deliverables” that its membership committees have developed in the last 12 months, including reports on best practices and practical steps enterprises can take to develop and plan energy efficient data centers.
John Tucillo, a director of the nonprofit Green Grid, opened the two-day conference with a reminder to members that there is still a great deal of work to be done in spreading the message of green IT. While many companies and their IT staffs are aware of what the technology can do, it’s often hard to implement these practices in real world situations.
There is no easy solution for developing a green data center. However, the consortium believes that by sharing information, better solutions can be developed.
“Let us share with the industry where we are on a couple of fronts,” said Tucillo. “We want to solicit feedback from the industry, engage in the strength that is this organization and move forward. Essentially, we have to get connected to efficient IT.
To start off the event, three members of The Green Grid spoke of recent projects to improve or consolidate data centers using green technology. Throughout their talks, all agreed that without the support of the entire company, not just the IT staff or the facilities division, it is impossible to develop a green data center.
On the technology front, all these enterprises were turning toward virtualization-the ability to divide a physical sever into multiple virtual environments-and high-density computing in the form of blade servers, as the two main technologies in designing and building these new data centers.
There was also a call for uniformed standards to measure energy efficient, a main goal of The Green Grid consortium.
Green IT saves money
Renato Crocetti, a corporate vice president at ADP, which provides payroll and human resources services for other companies, detailed his efforts in the last three years to reduce the number of data centers from 20 down to two, which meant reducing floor space from 200,000 square feet to 45,000 square feet and reducing power consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by half.
During that time, Crocetti told the audience he had to look beyond just the servers to see how energy efficient the microprocessors his company was using were. Crocetti said he’s hoping in the future to look at more energy efficient storage equipment that uses solid state drives instead of traditional hard disk drives that need more power.
“We needed to acquire new partners,” said Crocetti. “I dealt mostly with platform manufacturers. I dealt with Dell, IBM and Sun [Microsystems]. I never dealt with component manufactures, so I found myself turning to component manufactures and I needed them to understand that we needed to change the game.”
While talking green is considered a corporate and socially responsible initiative, The Green Grid members also emphasized the amount of money companies can save by reducing energy bills and how that reflects on the bottom line.
While most of The Green Grid deals with enterprises, such as ADP, which are based in North America, there is also an effort underway to expand the group’s global presence.
For example, Tucillo said The Green Grid is expanding into Europe for the first time.
Andrew Fanara, who works with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and has been leading the efforts for government standards for measuring energy efficiency, including a project to create Energy Star standards for servers, said his agency is also encouraging countries such as China and India to develop more energy efficient data centers.
Since these two countries are investing heavily in their IT infrastructures today, it’s better to get both China and India focused on green IT now instead of waiting for the data centers to be built and then reconstructed later with green hardware.
“We want China to build data centers of the future, not of the past,” Fanara said.