If there are two things everybody in IT can agree upon, it’s saving money and saving energy. 2008 was a banner year in green IT, as awareness increased among business owners of the benefits of saving power in the data center—improving the bottom line and curbing the ever-increasing “carbon footprints” made by these power-sucking IT centers.A carbon footprint is a representation of the effect human activities have on the climate in terms of the total amount of greenhouse gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide. Such a footprint is often expressed as tons of carbon dioxide or carbon emitted into the air, usually on an annual basis.
It’s not very often that a utility literally pays back a customer. NetApp got an early Christmas gift on Dec. 8: a cool $1.4 million rebate from the local power company, Pacific Gas & Electric. Now that news should motivate some other companies to consider modernizing old data centers for better power usage.Data storage network provider NetApp was recognized for its efforts to improve its energy efficiency, conserve resources and reduce waste. PG&E, which is among the most forward-thinking utility companies on the planet, presented NetApp with a rebate of $1,427,477 under PG&E’s Non-Residential New Construction program, which encourages PG&E’s commercial, industrial, high-tech and agricultural customers to implement energy-efficient building and process design and construction. NetApp’s rebate is the largest new construction incentive PG&E has awarded. The company received the rebate for the design of its new Sunnyvale engineering data center and the measures it implemented to more efficiently provide power and decrease the energy needed for cooling.
Hewlett-Packard has been enabling its server/storage array and data center design customers to save power and cooling costs since long before green IT became the bandwagon topic it is today. HP has always been ecology-minded, going way back to the 1970s, when it put more efficient power supplies into its network printers, offered holistic data center design for environmental strategies and promoted energy-efficient operations throughout a supply chain.The company recently completed building a 1.1-megawatt, 6,256-solar panel system at its data center in San Diego. One of the largest solar power installations in the county of San Diego, it is expected to save HP about $750,000 during the next 15 years while providing more than 10 percent of the facility’s power. To reduce its carbon footprint, HP also is relying on diversified renewable energy resources, improving energy efficiency and placing a strong emphasis on energy reduction and optimization at a number of its facilities around the world.
The Green Grid, a global consortium dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in data centers, will unveil four project “deliverables” during its first public Technical Forum and Members’ Meeting Feb. 5-6. The four deliverables are a white paper on organization barriers to more efficient and lower-power data centers, and reports on commonly used practices on saving power in the data center, on power distribution in the data center (playing off a 2006 Lawrence Berkeley Labs study) and on five ways to save power immediately.
Data center and power-supply industry veteran Paul Marcoux was hired a year ago to serve as director of all of Cisco Systems’ green IT initiatives, and that’s one tall order. Cisco employs some 68,000 people and owns dozens of workplaces around the world. “We’re essentially putting together a ‘green road map’ for the entire corporation. This involves everything from recycling cans in the cafeteria to the kinds of energy-conscious products we make,” Marcoux said.
The U.S. Department of Energy, through the Environmental Protection Agency’s EnergyStar program, in 2007 asked Silicon Valley systems makers to take a hard look at how they do business and explore whether they could run their operations and produce IT hardware that could be less power-hungry and more environmentally friendly.Then in August of the same year, the EPA reported to Congress that it is taking stock of power usage in the IT sector, asked for tax breaks for companies that become “greener” and set out some general industry guidelines on how much power could be saved over the next several years. So a number of key decision makers sat down, asked questions, did some research and came back with an aggregate answer on June 26, 2008: Yes, we can, and we can do it within our budgets.At a daylong conference called the Data Center Energy Summit, organized by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and staged at Sun Microsystems’ campus, SVLG member Teresa Tung of consulting and research company Accenture presented a compilation of a year’s worth of data in its Data Center Energy Forecast Report.
Lack of funding and operational resources were the reasons most often cited in the research conducted in February and released April 24 by the Business Performance Management Forum. Concerns are increasing about rising fuel and energy costs, carbon dioxide emissions, and global warming, yet data center energy consumption continues to steadily grow, the report said. About half of the 150 IT managers surveyed say their organizations have run out of energy resources within the recent past.Despite the environmental concerns that everybody can agree upon, the rising cost of energy was the top reason cited as impetus for green data center initiatives.
A group of about 150 international representatives, energy officials and IT executives met Feb. 20 at the new, environmentally friendly federal building in San Francisco. The meeting was the first convocation of an 18-month-old coalition called Connected Urban Development, spearheaded on the IT side by Cisco Systems and its CEO and Chairman, John Chambers.The CUD initiative aims to create repeatable citywide communications infrastructures that show how network connectivity can reduce carbon emissions for cities, countries and individuals. In its first phase, CUD consists of partnerships with three pilot cities—San Francisco, Amsterdam, and Seoul—in order to apply information and communications technology to promote innovative practices for reducing CO2.
A research study on data center capacity and energy efficiency has found that ever-increasing power and cooling costs are affecting the economics of IT more profoundly than many industry observers had thought.The study, conducted by the Uptime Institute, in Santa Fe, N.M., represented the views of 311 enterprise data center managers. The data was recorded over two weeks during the summer of 2008.