Green computing strategies challenge the common misperceptions that green computing will cost more; however, these strategies actually improve an organization’s bottom line rather than shrink it when adopted. By integrating green computing strategies, organizations have a clear path to create savings that will improve IT, free up capital for other investments, generate goodwill with their constituency groups-all the while exemplifying good stewardship of the economy and environment.
Now is the time to make a positive impact on your community, on the environment and on your profit margins by implementing sustainable, less wasteful green solutions in your business. While this article will focus on green IT, these strategies should be viewed as part of a broader initiative to reduce the cost of doing business.
Green IT takes advantage of cutting-edge solutions that keep you connected and improve reliability, while reducing energy consumption. The following four-phased approach maintains transparency to your employees, reduces energy at the desktop and in the server room, reduces the environmental impact of IT, and creates a net savings leading to your organization’s profitability.
Phase No. 1: What to know before starting
Transparency and efficiency are prerequisites for these green solutions. They are the keys to creating profitability for the small business. Transparency to the employee means that there will not be a change in the way they perform their daily work, which keeps efficiency high. These solutions work in the background, during and after work hours, reducing the need for employee intervention.
Next, a company should determine the utility of the existing infrastructure and architecture to leverage current investments. From there, organizations should analyze their current power consumption bill to determine a base line and possible future savings upon the implementation of green IT solutions.
When contemplating energy costs, many organizations will think they need to completely overhaul or change their facilities to achieve their goals. However, it is possible to utilize current infrastructures with no major electrical upgrades. For example, the average daily desktop power consumption for a small business with 30 computers and desktop printers creates a monthly energy cost of approximately $1,500. These costs do not include the resources needed in the data center to run the servers and backup systems, which also take more energy to cool and maintain proper climate control.
The real value for the consumer is found in the transparency of the solution to the everyday employee, the use of existing facility infrastructure to achieve the goals, and the relative ease to implement. Finally, since these solutions are burden-free and simple to implement, there is no reason not to take advantage of the cost savings they create.
Energy-Saving Policies at the Desktop and Server Room
Phase No. 2: Energy-saving policies at the desktop and server room
When looking at energy-saving policies, there are two strategic areas that need to be engaged: the front-end (desktop solutions) and the back-end (the server room). Studies have been conducted which show that 55 percent of energy consumption related to IT exists outside of the data center, leaving the remaining 45 percent of IT-based energy consumption to the data center. That is why a comprehensive solution that targets both will yield a positive savings.
The solutions to be implemented at the desktop include remote or timer-controlled power strips, proximity-based hardware, and Microsoft Group Policies. Replacing older power strips with newer ones add the necessary functionality that prevents power drains and phantom electricity. These hardware-based devices can not only be remote or timer-controlled to shut down multiple peripherals at a time, but also can sense an individual’s proximity to the equipment and know whether or not it is necessary to have it on.
Finally, by applying enterprise-wide group policies, any PC that has been left idle can automatically be put into a low energy state to conserve energy consumption at the desktop. This is centrally controlled by the server but can have a positive effect on energy consumption throughout the entire organization.
The remaining 45 percent of IT energy consumption can be reduced in the server room with virtualization technology and the use of co-located facilities. Virtualization turns multiple servers into a single server, reducing power consumption, depreciation costs and unused space. By moving the servers out of the office altogether and into a co-located facility or data center, all the power consumption is offloaded-while simultaneously offering greater security and scalability that is transparent to the user. The implementation of virtualization and co-location plans in the server room reduces underutilized servers and provides greater energy efficiency, reliability and security.
Reducing Environmental Impact
Phase No. 3: Reducing environmental impact
Through these efforts, your company will begin to realize ongoing savings created by the reduction in energy consumption, which in turn will reduce your impact on the environment. To further augment your environmental stewardship initiatives, you can invest back into your organization and the environment by offsetting carbon emissions through the purchase of renewable energy credits and partnering with the EPA Green Power Program.
The green IT solutions that have been implemented-coupled with the achievement of carbon neutrality-will provide the opportunity to generate goodwill and exemplify stewardship to internal and external stakeholders. Through this achievement, an organization will exemplify leadership while simultaneously experiencing the guaranteed savings and benefits of credibility in an emerging green industry.
Phase No. 4: Green sustainability and profitability
The impact these solutions have on the bottom line is truly transformational. Companies benefit in two areas of cost savings from these innovations. First, the upfront cost savings to purchase new infrastructure of PCs and servers can be reduced by 50 percent by using hosted, virtualized environments in co-located facilities. Second, the ongoing savings are clear and measurable with power and utility bill reductions that bring guaranteed savings.
For example, one company with over 40 employees, 20 servers and power consumption that exponentially increased year after year was able to reduce power costs by over 50 percent. This translated into a power savings of $13,000 per year. To further increase the savings, they were able to reposition 50 percent of their internal support staff into profit-generating positions.
The small business that has 30 computers and desktop printers can reduce their power consumption by over 54 percent when green IT solutions are in place. That means the bottom line is improved, profit margins are increased, and organizations enjoy the sustainability of both their business and the environment. That is an impact that simply cannot be ignored.
Scott P. Stephan is Vice President of ANALYSYS. Scott is responsible for vision and oversight of the company’s technical services and operations. Scott has more than 10 years in IT-related consulting and management expertise. Scott joined ANALYSYS as a Director of IT to an ANALYSYS client with over 500 employees and 17 offices. Prior to ANALYSYS, Scott was responsible for new site expansions and infrastructure development at ComputerTraining.com, a national provider of classroom-based IT training and certification. He can be reached at [email protected].