A Green IT Infrastructure Case Study: Monsanto

Agrigcultural powerhouse Monsanto had storage requirements that were growing at an annual rate of 50 percent in a forty year old building that barely maintained its reliability and availability. Built in an era long before powerful blade servers were crammed into cabinets, the data center was forced to rebuild. This is Monsanto's green IT story as told to Baseline magazine.

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Agriculture powerhouse Monsanto learned to use technology to genetically modify seeds-including corn, cotton and soybean-so farmers can generate greater yields per acre and weather drought while using fewer herbicides and pesticides. In 2003, Monsanto undertook an analysis of its data center storage and processing capacity needs. Retrofitting the data center was considered, but the company decided a new building would be more cost-effective and would open new opportunities for conserving energy and improving physical security.

Energy efficiency is a hot topic these days, but green IT at Monsanto means more than finding servers that burn fewer watts. The St. Louis-based agricultural company is at the forefront of research into more productive and resistant seeds.
"We're a company focused on agriculture, but we're also a company based on technological innovation," says Monsanto CIO Mark Showers. "Every day Monsanto scientists analyze terabytes of data collected from laboratories, field trials and breeding stations around the world."
The heart of much of that research for the past 40 years has been the company's primary data center on its main campus in Creve Coeur, Mo. But with the company's storage requirements growing at an annual rate of 50 percent, the four-decade-old building was straining to maintain the reliability and availability required by contemporary standards.

Built in an era long before powerful blade servers were crammed into cabinets, the data center was forced to rely on a large central cooling system to keep temperatures within acceptable ranges, as well as a number of smaller cooling units activated when the main system had problems or couldn't keep up.