Ways to Go Green
Consolidate and Virtualize
Consolidation and virtualization are two good places to start in the "going green" movement. In many data centers, between 10% - 30% of servers are not in productive use and could be turned off. Another 20% - 30% are only left running to sustain a very lightweight workload, typically providing older compatibility type services which could be easily virtualized.
Benefits from removing physical servers add up quickly -- up to $1,200 in energy costs per server per year -- in direct energy and cooling costs. In addition, savings in hardware and software maintenance costs and less personnel or administration time spent can be realized.
The average physical server today runs at anywhere from 10% - 15% utilization. Since an idle server can consume as much as 30% of the energy it consumes at peak utilization, increasing utilization levels leveraging these technologies is almost "free."
As an example, the VMware product Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) continuously monitors utilization across resource pools and intelligently allocates available resources among the virtual machines. This literally squeezes virtual machines onto as little physical hardware as possible, and powers down servers not in use. When resource demands increase, servers are powered back up and the workload is again re-distributed.
In another example, when leveraging both "Cool Threads" and Solaris Zones/Container technologies from Sun Microsystems, highly scalable platforms can be created to power the ever increasing demand for content on the Internet with energy savings and tax rebates.
Desktop virtualization, thin-client PC's and PC blade technology are other great ways to cut costs in both energy and administration.
Turn on Power Management
In most modern servers, power management tools exist but system administrators don't seem to be using them. "In a typical data center, the electricity usage hardly varies at all, but the IT load varies by a factor of three or more. That tells you that we're not properly implementing power management," says Amory Lovins, chairman and chief scientist at the Rocky Mountain Institute, an energy and sustainability research firm in Snowmass, Colorado. Amory also says, "just taking full advantage of power management features and turning off unused servers can cut data center energy requirements by about 20%."
Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Servers
The current crop of processors from AMD and Intel are leveraging multi-core technology and are delivering much more performance per watt than ever before. Add to this industry leading server design, incorporating energy-saving technologies like variable speed fans, and single voltage power supplies that are achieving better than 80% efficiency over a wider range of server utilization, and significant energy savings can be achieved.
Chip makers are also consolidating functions such as I/O and memory controllers onto the processor platform. Sun's Niagra II includes a Peripheral Component Interconnect Express bridge, a 10 Gigabit Ethernet and floating-point functions on a single chip. "We've created a true server on a chip," says Rick Hetherington, chief architect and distinguished engineer at Sun.
Watch for New Specifications on Hardware
Many initiatives are in progress that may help identify the most energy-efficient IT equipment:
- The 80 Plus program for power supplies
- Energy Star certification program for servers
- The Standard Performance Evaluation Corp. (SPEC) "performance-per-watt" benchmark for servers
Choose Vendors That "Take Back"
GCA Technology Services partners with vendors that "take back" their own product. In combination with GCA Technology Services' trade-in program, we developed a global product returns program that recycles, reclaims and reuses components or entire systems. End users can return their end-of-life equipment to our company for recycling, reuse, or proper disposal. Customers will be given GCA Technology Services' credit that can be used for any product or service we provide.
Used IT equipment is collected and sent to a third-party asset recovery vendor that recovers useful parts. Components and assemblies that have no commercial value as functioning systems or components are broken down for the recovery and recycling of metals and plastics.
How Do I Pay For "Greening"?
Utilities backed by government programs offer energy rebates and or tax incentives for choosing energy efficient products. These financial incentives can add up quickly. Contact GCA Technology Services today for more information on these programs and how you can benefit.