How can technology reduce the environmental impact of IT and Datacentres?

This month in the US at the releas of a draft version of its Climate Change Bill, Sun Microsystems espoused the virtues of its energy efficient server and thin client technologies. Richard Barrington, head of sustainability at Sun, said that with IT accounting for a billion tonnes of CO2 a year - more than the airline industry - IT chiefs should be at the forefront of moves to tackle climate change.

Stephen Nunn od Accenture said that many firms are a long way from running environmentally friendly datacentres, adding that less than 30 percent of organisations have undertaken the initial server consolidation and standardisation projects that drive up utilisation levels, enhance energy efficiency and mark the first phase of any green datacentre strategy.

He said he also warned that developing a truly green datacentre, featuring high utilisation rates, energy efficient servers, computing power on demand and efficiently managed storage, would require IT chiefs to undertake "a radical transformation journey", however he insisted that such transformation projects are now inevitable. "We have a duty to play a role in the green agenda and we do that by transforming our underlying infrastructure," he said. "It will not just deliver cost benefits, but also carbon benefits, which, believe me, you will soon need to report on."

have unveiled two servers designed to reduce power consumption and deliver dramatic improvements in performance and performance per watt for enterprise customers

Dell’s PowerEdge 2970 and PowerEdge Energy Smart 2970 will be the first servers from a major systems provider to market with the new Dual Dynamic Power Management feature ready to enable optimized quad-core performance and power management. Both servers are designed to handle multiple generations of AMD Opteron processors, providing a seamless upgrade path to quad-core and allowing customers to increase computing capacity, consolidate and deploy virtualized environments without altering their data center infrastructure.

The PowerEdge 2970 server is engineered to draw up to 34 percent less power1 and deliver up to 105 percent greater performance per watt2 over the previous generation of Dell servers featuring dual-core processors.



Operating systems, virtualisation and shared resources can help too?

New technology can help, though. Virtualisation, coupled with a comprehensive infrastructure management system, can create a framework that gives IT chiefs the option to power-down certain systems.

Despite the advantages that virtualisation offers, many enterprises still run infrastructures built on the inefficient one-server-per-application model. However, a more flexible approach is being advocated by a number of vendors. HP, for example, is promoting its NonStop high-availability server as a "state database engine" that can underpin an almost limitless range of cheap Linux servers. The NonStop engine holds data about the current state of every server so that, if one fails, its state can be reloaded onto a spare machine, and the status quo is maintained.

And then there are application virtualisation tools such as Softricity's SoftGrid technology, which pushes just the application code needed to run any one task off the server and out onto the desktop PC. That way, there is no need to load the whole application in either location. Though SoftGrid is targeted at Microsoft desktop PC environments for now, the technology should in theory scale to a state engine/racks of servers model in the future.

Combined, these technologies could enable IT departments to save money on both energy and hardware, while providing them with far greater operational flexibility.

HP is getting behind all things sustainable and green, including the idea that IT managers should be given budget incentives to improve IT efficiency.

Speaking in connection with the launch of a range of HP energy-efficient PCs, which the company claims could be more than 45 percent more efficient than existing systems, Todd Kruse, HP business desktop product manager, said it was important that IT managers should be given incentives for buying energy-saving products.

March/April 2007