Putting the Energy Consumption of Worldwide Data Centers into Perspective – Part 2

In last week’s post I laid out the case that there are enormous productivity and financial upsides to greening today’s datacenters.  Today, I’d like to suggest specific strategies to get there. 

1. Virtualization – The process of running multiple programs on one or two computers, or having five or six people work on one computer simultaneously. These steps can significantly reduce an energy footprint.  Benefits of a virtualization strategy can include:

  • IT becomes more efficient. Beyond just hardware savings from consolidation, virtualization optimizes infrastructure costs and increases operational efficiency. Plus, firms are able to reclaim capacity (space, power, and cooling) in their data centers, postponing costly expansion plans.
  • Time-to-market is faster. Virtualization speeds server and application deployment, makes configurations more consistent, and simplifies the staging of applications across test and development.
  • IT services are more predictable. There will always be failures and downtime, but virtualization makes recovery from these incidents faster, easier, and lower cost.

2. More efficient switching – With circuit switching, the route for communications from one point to another is decided before the communication is started. The communication remains on the same route from beginning to end of the process, even if that route is not the most efficient route.

With packet switching, a communication is divided up into packets and each packet is allowed to find its way to the destination by the most efficient route possible. Packets are sent and then the recipient device re-assembles the packets to form the original transmission. Because each packet can use the best route possible, the transmission of data via packet switching allows for optimum efficiency versus circuit switching. Our experience is that packet switching is more efficient and robust, increasing worker productivity, enhancing data security, and enjoying greater energy savings.

3. Mobility and Collaboration – Already a $57 billion market, the mobility and collaboration market is expected to grow at a four-year compound annual growth rate of 13.8 percent, according to industry analysts. Gartner predicts that 34 percent ($1.2 trillion) of the total data center spend will be associated with mobility and 67 percent of all workers will be mobile by the end of 2012 (Gartner, 2010).

Contributing to this unprecedented market growth are the dramatically changing dynamics of the enterprise workplace. With people working away from their desks more than 67 percent of the time, businesses in every industry are seeking data center solutions that allow them to be more productive and profitable in this mobile environment while addressing new challenges in data center security, storage and manageability.

The more we can replace physical travel with networked virtual experiences, the more we can reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. “Move electrons and photons, not atoms.” Strategies include:

  • Networked connectivity to enable more people to work from home and reduce commute consumption and waste
  • Networked connectivity to enable remote access to education services
  • High-performance videoconferencing solutions to reduce the need for business travel
  • Networked distribution models to reduce trips to video stores and shipping of digital content
  • Networked sensor and control systems to improve traffic flow and management and reduce waste
  • Networked transportation information kiosks to make public transportation options more appealing (e.g. by showing real
  • bus and train arrival times)
  • Better implementation of computing and software technologies to efficiently manage vehicle operation and provide efficiency feedback to vehicle operators

Perhaps we’re looking at all this the wrong way. Anything in the business world that is more efficient and saves money is almost always green. So, we’re really talking about streamlining and optimizing an organization, maintaining a hard ROI approach to everything, with the positive environmental aspects of doing so coming along for the ride.

That argument makes for a better selling point. “Green” can be equated as much with greenbacks as the natural environment – it’s just a change in perspective.


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