HOP, SKIP & JUMP!!!! Seems to be the way we are growing our business year on year. As the business grows, so does the usage of Information Technology. People who have had a look at a Corporate power consumption bills would definitely know what I am trying to hint at over here.
Yup, you got it right. IT is the heaviest consumer of power in our environment today and so the time has come to keep an eye on how we are utilizing our IT assets and see if we can somehow reduce our emissions and there by reduce the huge amounts of carbon emissions from our datacenters.
I see Greenpeace volunteers in our cafeteria or near the office sidewalks trying to educate us on the effects of Global Warming and ask us to help them protect our ecosystem.
And what do we do ???
We just hand over some money to them every month towards their environmental programs and feel that we have done our bit. But, the onus still lies on us as we work in an environment ruled by IT . Bottomline is our fight to go green should not stop.
Energy consumptions in Datacenters are reaching an all time highs . With the advent of new hardware technologies, our existing hardware are destined to become electronic waste. And if no initiatives are thought of soon then soon we would find our datacenters getting starved for adequate power.
Somehow somewhere, there is a notion that has come out that we might have to compromise on business performance for the sake of Green IT. Rest assured, Green IT can be achieved without any fears of threat to business.
One such approach to go green is by using the concept of virtualization. In which applications run independent of platform, server and desktop operating systems run virtualized on device hardware thereby enabling IT organizations to deliver as per their commitments and on the other hand minimizing energy consumption and waste.
As per Gartner IT now accounts for over 2% of worldwide energy usage and by end of 2008, half of the world’s datacenters wont have enough energy capacity to meet the power and cooling requirements of the latest computing equipment, such as the blade servers. With supply dwindling and government regulation looming, this level of consumption is simply not sustainable.
Why Datacenters to go green?
As we grow, so does the IT infrastructure in the company. And so, for things to be under our control we are moving towards IT centralization. This consolidation activity has created a power surge in the datacenter, with energy costs, in some cases, more than doubling. The bulk of energy consumptions are in running the servers, air conditioning and peripherals at the heart of the IT infrastructure.
Air conditioning and server go hand in hand as for every kilowatt of energy consumed by a server; approximately the same amount of energy is used to cool that same server. So with the number of servers and IT assets increasing, the math becomes really interesting.
The key to carbon footprint reduction in the datacenter lies not only in reducing the number of physical servers, but also in optimizing server utilization. Consider the amount of energy needed to support a corporate application. Lets say that it takes 3 dedicated servers to handle the application’s traffic, failover and redundancy. Now, these servers would most likely only exhibit an average of 50% utilization or less. Even at this utilization, however, each server still consumes 100% of power. This inefficiency compounds exponentially for each company function supported by a dedicated server farm.
Why are Desktops a source of problem?
All the networked computing devices, printers, copiers etc hard at work in the enterprise – may turn out to be the bigger green IT challenge. As per Citrix systems, with a single network server supporting only about 200 devices, energy consumption in the datacenter will escalate as these machines continue to proliferate. To add to the issue in the datacenter, each device draws a lot of power on its own, even when in sleep or standby mode – consuming yet more power. When scaled to thousands of users, the power bill – destined to become entirely an IT budget line item – really adds up.
Our concern here really increases when it comes to replacing and disposing obsolete machines – some yielding only a two-year life span. Most of these materials contain hazardous material such as lead, cadmium and mercury, which need special handling for disposal. And trust me, these disposals don’t come cheap and can average around $200 per device.
But today’s IT company has way to beat this disposal cost and that is the concept of leasing. But honestly, leasing fails to circumvent this problem. Organizations may think they can escape disposal costs through leasing when in fact they actually absorb these expenses. Furthermore, since leased machines are not considered corporate assets, a company cannot benefit from full depreciation. A more preferable option would be to purchase these machines and extend their lives far beyond the current two-year cycle.
And so the race is on. Race to find the best way to reduce carbon footprint without hampering the business performance. Most IT companies realize that simply putting constraints on datacenter space, power and cooling abilities is not a viable option as it may hinder, not help, future company growth. Some other IT options that are available are:
Bigger servers that can support multiple services are useful for consolidating some services. Unfortunately, this would provide limited relief, as many regulatory compliance specifications require separation of services provided to various business units.
Increased Server Efficiency
It is tempting to try and get more out of existing servers, especially those that may not have reached full depreciation. However, increasing server efficiency would require significant changes in the datacenter and wouldn’t decrease the actual number of servers in use. Also consider that these servers will still be underutilized and consuming more energy that necessary. Utilization increase must go hand in hand with decreased power consumption to net real results.
Zero carbon datacenters
Here’s another swanky looking term. Well some large organizations are building zero carbon datacenters fed by clean hydroelectric power. While this option is not cost effective for smaller organizations with mid sized datacenters, it is particularly attractive to high-density computing installations featuring thousands of servers and requiring enormous amounts of power.
Citrix has come up with some exciting new initiatives around virtualization with products such as XenServer, XenApp and XenDesktop.
Going green is good for business as well as the environment. Soaring costs and dwindling energy supply are driving a new era of green IT, in which the greatest challenge is to shrink power consumption yet still support business scalability and performance.
My 10 steps toward a greener IT is:
- Use server virtualization to minimize hardware footprint and power requirements. (Such as Citrix XenServer)
- Leverage the possibilities of application virtualization to broaden client device options to include more low power alternatives. (Such as Citrix XenApp)
- Through desktop virtualization reduce client device computing power. (Such as Citrix XenDesktop)
- Replace old power supplies with new, more efficient models.
- Employ 64-bit processor architecture and Intel VT and AMD-V processor architecture to improve server density.
- Standardize on Energy Star and EPEAT-compliant servers and client devices.
- Turn to liquid cooling within servers to reduce cooling costs.
- Try solid-state user devices such as thin clients for longer life.
- Manage power cycling of desktops, servers and peripherals during off-peak hours.
- Review datacenter layout design and consolidate for space savings.