RealTime IT News

Going Green? Best Practices Are Forming.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- There are more than a few factors pushing enterprises to go "green" these days, such as carbon footprints, power and cooling costs.

But the biggest imperative, according to experts attending this week's Storage Networking World conference, is money -- specifically saving bucks with common sense and emerging technologies that make effective use of resources.

Nearly every speaker during a "green" session made note that 'green' is not new by any means. What may be new for many tech teams is that they're very likely doing 'green IT' already in some form or another.

The quest for IT to take the lead on green business, and incorporating both simple and technical best practices for cutting power and cooling costs and attaining efficiency in managing what's becoming a sprawling storage environment.

If done right, the rewards can be compelling, with one expert noting that a company could gain 50 percent in cost reductions. Such achievement would also boost IT's stature within the corporate leadership realm.

"It's all about energy, power and pooling resources," SW Worth, senior standards program manager, Microsoft, told his session audience. It's not about focusing on the environmental aspect of green IT, but the financial and operational aspects, he said.

While storage gurus highlighted how specific tools, such as virtualization, can help drive efficiency and save storage costs, they also stressed that going 'green' means working with business leaders outside of the IT realm.

"Storage guys have to talk with the data guys and the guy who pays the storage bill and the guy who runs the facilities for the company. Green isn't just about power and cooling," Worth said.

"IT must get involved with facilities. They must also start talking with their power providers and investigate discounts," he added.

One industry analyst said one best practice is to not view 'green IT' as an environmental issue but as a cost factor in hardware and power and cooling costs.

Whether it's storage or some other technology mandate it's all about doing more with less," John Sloan, senior research analyst, Info-tech Research Group, told InternetNews.com during a session break.

Right now about 47 percent of enterprises that have some form of green budgeting are doing server consolidation and virtualization, according to Info-tech. About 38 percent of enterprises with no green budget are still doing consolidation and virtualization.

Overall, 40 percent are doing consolidation regardless of strategic orientation toward green spending, according to the firm.

Sloan noted that some current practices need changing to make green IT a reality. For example distributed processing infrastructures – where every application is provisioned with its own physical server with DAS – are grossly inefficient.

"One server might be at capacity while another is barely used. New servers may need to be purchased even though the aggregate utilization across all servers may only be 20 percent or even less," according to Info-tech research reports.

Optimizing storage can bring savings in capital expenses as well as power consumption. Just consolidation can bring benefits, said Sloan.

Info-Tech research indicates server consolidation/virtualization projects can lead to reduction in one-time and ongoing hardware acquisition costs of 45 percent to 70 per cent. Fewer processors and fewer spinning hard drives mean less electricity is consumed, said Sloan.

Just analyzing physical space use can boost efficiency as a well-organized storage footprint means less space requires cooling. More than half of virtualization implementers surveyed by Info-Tech said that shrinking the footprint was a driving force behind virtualization adoption.

In fact, just having a consolidation strategy presents an opportunity to show progress in energy efficiency.

The goal, said Sloan, is to now exploit the opportunity to both improve project support and raise the profile of IT.

"It's pretty simple. It is all about doing more with less. Green is good for business," Sloan said.