Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Trending now: green computing is not an option

A guest post from Larry Vertal, a Principal with the Enterprise Business Solutions group of Fujitsu America, a member of Fujitsu’s Global Sustainability Team and Founding Director of The Green Grid.


The drive to green computing is a business necessity, not an option. Those that ignore it do so at their peril.

IT has become central to the competitiveness of most corporations. But with the cost of energy to run data centres and the rest of the IT infrastructure likely to exceed the cost of the equipment, IT is a huge and growing corporate cost centre.

The possibility of CAPEX IT investments becoming smaller than the OPEX energy costs is a sobering thought and an issue which, if not addressed, threatens the competitive position of a company. Stopping this OPEX spiral is a green computing issue because the resource footprint of IT is an efficiency issue, which is part of green computing.

Yet most companies lack hard data and metrics to understand where to focus, much less to enable, a strategy for fast ROI. This is compounded by disconnects between IT, Operations and the C-level management, which result in excessive OPEX.

You can’t start addressing a problem without knowing where you are. And you can’t manage what you don’t measure. From addressing a company’s data centres to the entire scope of corporate IT, from servers to PCs, action needs to begin with fact, data driven analysis and metrics to set the baseline for tangible improvements and measured returns.

A well-designed assessment methodology for all of an enterprise’s IT, or one more narrowly focused on client devices or data centres, is essential. It sets the basis for an on-going Sustainable IT Framework that targets cost, energy, resource and operational optimization.

A metrics-driven, formal assessment makes obvious both the actions that can offer rapid benefit and provides the justification to the C-Suite for undertaking them. Without such an approach it is easy to miss low hanging fruit.

For example, in data centres the magnitude of the benefits of changes in thermal airflow, power layouts, temperature and humidity set points are often not understood, or cannot be justified, without a formal assessment. Additionally, an analysis can also make clear the value of projects focused on server consolidation, server replacement, virtualization and cloud computing, which all tend to be another side of green IT.

It is not unusual for such assessments to identify 30% or greater savings in data centre energy costs, with ROI’s as short as six months. And in the case of office and PC equipment, where typically desktops, printers and other devices can account for 40% of the office power bill, 50% reductions can be achieved through proper power management.

While optimizing IT OPEX, these types of savings also release previously trapped capital for investments to further increase the competitiveness of a company. And in some cases the savings can reduce or defer previously planned CAPEX for a data centre expansion or new build.

This is a competitive advantage and one reason why green computing is a business necessity.

Of course focusing on energy also addresses greenhouse gases, one of the key components in a corporation’s environmental footprint, as the generation of the electricity has a significant carbon footprint. And while energy efficiency is the chief area of focus for many companies today, there are other variables such as water, waste and lifecycle management which are part of a comprehensive green computing stewardship.

Indeed for many multinational corporations in particular a full corporate wide Sustainable IT Framework which includes on-going measurement and metrics is already a business requirement. Deeper understanding, measurement and reporting are often required to comply with current or emerging carbon regulations or taxes. And for companies of all sizes, demands by customers for environmental reporting by suppliers are becoming the norm.

Be it driven by energy or cost optimization to support a corporations competitiveness or by the need to comply with regulations or customer requirements, those that wish to keep their companies and organizations from withering have no option but to implement green computing.

© The Green IT Review

1 comment:

  1. Very nicely put, on a number of fronts.

    The overtaking of CapEx by OpEx is here now and has been the case for quite a while. While we say here that ignoring energy efficiency is not an option, many firms are indeed looking at it that way. In my view, this is a symptom of "IT" and "Facilities" being in separate towers. Until this organizational separation is brought together, or until a level of oversight covering both towers at once takes notice, then the motivators of realizing this savings are ineffective.

    In our Data Center Practice, we address this with our Efficiency engagements, in which we evaluate both facility-specific (MEP) energy savings opportunities along with real time measurement of "useful work" performed on servers. Thus, one has a view not only of efficiency gains through better airflow management, power distribution changes, set point adjustments and so on, but also through specific consolidation or power management actions right on each individual server.

    If we're to capitalize on these money saving opportunities, we have to address both sides of the data center equation.