What to Do When Energy Issues Fall On Your Lap

High voltage powerlines.Historically the IT industry has been focused on one goal: Delivering faster and more reliable technology. Now a new demand has been thrown into the mix: Reducing energy consumption. When other departments were covering the electricity tab, IT didn’t have to worry about the harsh reality of rising power bills. But those days have come to an end.

“Most chief information officers don’t even consider electricity, so they don’t know that energy reduction should be on their radar. But many companies are asking IT to pay for its consumption and are building the reduction of energy consumption into compensation packages,” says Jose Iglesias, vice-president of global solutions for Symantec.

One of the biggest contributors to this problem is technology that is under-utilized (but sucking up energy still). Out of the seven million servers shipped worldwide, approximately six million are Intel x86 processors loaded with only a single application. This means that only 5% to 10% of a server is being used when the company is still paying for 100% of the electricity needed to run each server. With a server per application it’s no surprise data centers are getting crowded fast and the demands on cooling the data center just add to the electricity draw.

Even if you are one of the few companies that don’t mind footing the hefty bill, many are going to run out of physical space to house the servers. A 2006 survey of data centers by power supply vendor Liebert Corp. found that by 2011, 96% of the companies it surveyed expect their electrical and cooling capacity to have reached their limit.

So what are some ways to combat mounting energy demands?

Virtualization

Virtualization takes advantage of the 90% of under-utilized space on an x86 server. You can keep each applications isolated while running side-by-side, so there are no conflicts. By sharing a server with virtualization, you bump up the industry standard of one application/one server to as high as 20 applications/one server. Organizations can then drastically scale back the hardware needed and save money as electricity and cooling needs plummet.

Reduce Storage Needs

Data de-duplication is another emerging green solution. By constantly backing up the same copy of a file over and over systems waste disk space, which results in wasted energy. De-duplication software identifies the unique copy of piece of information, stores it and puts pointers as to where the original resides while removing the duplicates. This reduces the amount of storage equipment needed.

Measure and Manage

You can’t reduce your energy consumption without knowing what’s going on in your environment. In a tough economy you need a rock solid business case for any investment, whether it’s for virtualization and de-duplication software or newer, more energy-efficient servers. Many manufacturers can provide you assessments of your current state, so that you can decide on the best course of action and prove the ROI of such improvements to your budget holders.

About Melissa Alvares

Melissa was the head of Softchoice’s campaign marketing team, responsible for providing organizations with information on the latest technology trends, insights and solutions from the desktop to the data center.