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Energy Efficient IT Infrastructure

Going green is not only good for one’s business but also god for the world too. Organizations can no longer afford to plug into the concept of being ‘environmental-conscious’ just for the heck of it. In fact, cutting energy costs has now become an imperative part of operating any business and IT is no exception to this.

Introducing numerous energy auditing tools, virtualization of software, analysis of data centers and management systems, introducing energy efficient lighting and electrical systems and educating IT staff about saving energy are the need of the hour. Although the transition to such energy efficient systems may pose a challenge in the initial stage, the continued rise of fuel prices and the subsequent shrinking of corporate budgets only reflect that there is no backing out now for organizations who aspire to grow…and grow big…so much so that it is now an integral part of their strategic initiatives and planning.

The challenge: the Exodus to the World Wide Web:As companies continue to grow bigger and expand, they shift their operational as well as communication base to the Internet, which means most transactions also happen online. This requires seamless online support in the form of audio, video, wireless communication, satellite systems, data center spaces and servers. The need to archive data and retain it also forces organizations to use more resources than they should in order to have an energy efficient IT system. This proves to a major impediment on the path of their IT going green.

The Post Go-Green Era:Hugging trees and going natural are things of the past. For most businesses and IT, there are far more challenges in this so called post-green era. The need to boost their data center energy efficiency and put in place a highly optimized and energy efficient IT infrastructure is insurmountable.

Energy consumption has been a major bone of contention in the parlance of energy efficient IT systems. Initially, power used to be cheap and abundant and price was never an issue. However, those were the times when the ‘greenhouse’ emissions too was but a new idea. But today, the economic slump that has plagued many countries all around the world have forced businesses and IT to take their energy consumption and costs more seriously than ever.

Some Glaring Facts:As per the statistics furnished by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in the year 2006 around 61 billion KW of energy per hour was being consumed by the United States’ servers alone. This figure was exactly double than the annual energy consumption measured in the year 2000. If EPA’s predictions are to be believed, we are headed towards double the amount of energy consumed back in 2006, by the beginning of 2012 – and that, even with our optimized and energy efficient IT systems!

McKinsey reports that by the year 2020, electronics and communication devices such as laptops, PCs, data canters, mobile phones, computing networks and telecom networks would be among the biggest emitters of greenhouse gas.

Energy Efficient It Infrastructure:Understanding Power Energy Usage (PEU) is the first essential step towards achieving a energy efficient IT infrastructure. Here are few steps that would help to understand the power consumption trend at work places and help to cut them to size.

  • Knowing the power consumption of hardware as well as its support such as UPS and air conditioning systems. Typically, in every data canter, every kilo Watt of power requires another 1.5kW to distribute and back up that power as well as cool the system of the excessive heat that is produced on the process. It is this 1.5kW of additional power that is the best area of improvement with the help of energy efficient systems and IT technologies.
  • UPS: All UPS devour around 10-15% of the power that passes through them.  Replacing such UPS with higher efficiency models that consume only 3% of the power that passes through them can help to slash down the energy consumption and cost in one go.
  • Power meters: Installing energy efficient power meters in addition to ‘green’ UPS, both within the racks as well as the plant supporting the server rooms will help IT managers get a clearer idea of energy consumption and usage trends and make intelligent decisions pertaining to energy efficient IT systems.   

Hardware cooling systems: Did you know that the cooling systems in data centers are the main cause of low PUE and wastage? As compared to the older generations of hardware that had more energy efficient hot aisle-cold aisle configurations, the newer generations of servers and high density storage devices create more heat that cannot be cooled by traditional cooling methods. These are ineffective in removing the excessive amount of heat and cooling down the systems. Such cooling methods must be replaced by newer, better energy saving methods.

Energy efficient IT education: Switching off their PCs and other electronic devices that run on electricity are but small steps that employees can learn and practice in order to make a large contribution in helping the organization cut down its energy consumption and costs and establish an energy efficient IT infrastructure.

About the Author:This article by Frank Johnson is in continuation of his series on ‘Energy Efficient IT’.  Frank is a regular editorial contributor on technology products and services that help small to mid size businesses.  To know more about Energy Efficient IT Systems, you may interact with him here

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