Hewlett-Packard yesterday announced a set of data centre services including things like consolidation and virtualisation. The welcome part is that the press release made no reference to ‘green’ or the environment at all. The benefits that HP point out; ‘energy efficiency, automation, virtualization, consolidation and business continuity’, should really be enough, without resorting to any greenwashing.
However, the company is also bringing its Dynamic Smart Cooling for data centres, launched in the US last year, to Europe, and that, understandably, does come with a green label. Barclays Bank in the UK is using it, with other measures, ‘to save up to 13.4 percent of total energy used for its data centre’.
This is part of Barclays' plan to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2010, from a year 2000 base. Let's do some sums:
- The UK Climate Change Bill is looking to reduce carbon emissions by c30% by 2020.
- In a report to Congress in August 2007 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that in 2006 electricity consumed by servers in U.S. data centres in 2006 was more than double the figure for 2000. If the same is true in the UK, then Barclays’ data centre energy consumption in 2007 would be c300% of the level in 1990 (less any savings already achieved).
- Thus to meet the UK targets Barclays needs to find over 70% savings in data centre energy (from 2007 level) by 2020. The package of measures it announced adds up to just 13%. Where does the other c57% of the savings come from?
This is not to criticise either HP or Barclays – every little helps. But it does put it in context. With the growth in IT use it will be very hard to limit IT energy consumption to match emissions targets. Pick the low hanging fruit and move on to other corporate targets where IT can help.