RealTime IT News

Expert: Storage Costs Could Hinder Green IT

ORLANDO, FLA. -- With power costs soaring and enterprises taking environmental concerns more seriously, few could deny that "green IT" has become a key buzzword in today's business.

But experts speaking here at this week's Storage Networking World conference warned that many enterprises -- if they're serious about cutting their energy expenses -- could do far more than merely talking.

"It's now about getting it done," ESG analyst Mark Peters said.

Peters, who spoke during one session today, said that involves IT shops becoming " more strategic about storage, and putting forward what's possible to the corporate level so they understand that IT can help reduce the power and utility costs in computing environments."

Of course, it's clear that for many major enterprises and their IT vendors, "green tech" has become at least something of a priority.

Last year, IBM pledged $1 billion per year to energy conservation.

The company also joined Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Dell in The Climate Savers Computing Initiative, an effort by the technology giants to reduce energy use.

Meanwhile, HP (NYSE: HPQ) also put money into green IT with last year's Thermal Zone Mapping, a tool that identifies trouble spots in the datacenter in terms of energy efficiency.

While those efforts account for some progress in the "greening" of the enterprise, they can do only so much for most businesses. The real trick, Peters said, is to win greater management buy-in by showing how IT has made progress in energy conservation thanks to increased efficiency.

For instance, companies can make greater headway in solving power and cooling issues more effectively in the storage environment, Peters said.

While some aspects of storage -- hardware, especially -- are becoming cheaper, electricity expenses are climbing. The goal, then, should be to find technologies that can help mitigate those costs, Peters said.

He also added that server virtualization could have an unexpectedly large impact on power consumption. Without virtualization, datacenter power is split almost evenly among servers, storage and networking components, he said.

But when virtualization comes into play, that ratio changes dramatically, he said, citing research that found servers then become responsible for only 10 percent of power needs.

At the same time, networking power consumption spikes from 35 percent to 40 percent, while storage power requirements grow even more prominent in the mix: from 35 to 50 percent.

"Server consolidation drives more networked storage, so storage power costs go up," Peters said.

As a result, he said enterprises can cut costs by weeding out inefficient storage processes while exploring new options, like storage virtualization and optimization.

"Take the time and think about your backup process, and start deleting things that you don't need," Peters said. "Start doing some of the easy things you can do to lower costs."

Thin provisioning, data compression and intelligent tiered storage also can factor in cutting power expenses, he added.

And IT shouldn't fret that adopting these new technologies will require asking for more money.

"Don't tell your CEO how much percentage IT is saving in power costs," he said. "Tell them how much money a new technology could save. Green IT is all about effective and efficient power use."