Using Fewer Resources Can Have A Big Impact on Green IT

Virtualization is one of the ways that companies can save money on their technology resources. The traditional approach was to purchase enough equipment to manage a company's computing needs. If a few machines were good, then more were better. People are starting to understand that the same work can be done by fewer resources. Which not only saves money and time, but can result in a big savings on the environmental footprint of a company.

Servers were often dedicated to a single operating system and enterprise application. Servers became smaller so more could be purchased for a given data center space. The power demands of a smaller server can still be significant. They often run very hot due to the density of the components. This required more cooling capacity in the data center. The additional cooling required more power consumption. The cycle of buying into more computing capacity, which increases the use of resources creating a larger impact on the environment, is a hard one to stop if a company wanted to stay competitive.

Server virtualization is one way to get out of that loop.

Virtualization of servers is accomplished by running multiple operating systems and applications on multiple servers. Server capacity can be partitioned to allow installing completely different operating systems. Those operating systems (OS) don't know about each other and assume that they are the only OS on the machine. Users access the system in a way that is transparent to them. Applications run within the required operating system as normal. With the proper load balancing, the computing capacity can be better managed with no machines working harder than others.

Application virtualization does the same with application software. Multiple copies of an application run on numerous servers. Again, through load balancing, the user is unaware of the hardware configuration. They just know that their work is getting done just as efficiently.

It is estimated that 40% of the power consumption in any data center is due to the server requirements. Reducing the number of servers reduces power consumption and cooling requirements. Less data center space is required.

Bryant University in Rhode Island, utilized server and application virtualization to reduce their number of servers from 75 to 40. This cut the data server space by 50% and the operating expenses were reduced by an estimated 30%. Overall power consumption was reduced. The school is operating with the same capacity and didn't lose functionality. But they have made a significant impact on the environmental footprint of their IT services.

Desktop virtualization is another way to reduce costs and the footprint. This used to be called the "thin client" strategy. Computers throughout the company contain little or no disk storage and less memory. These desktops don't run their own applications. Data and applications are maintained on centralized servers, or a combination of in-house and remote clouds. This reduces all type of maintenance issues such as patches and upgrades. But it also reduces the power consumption of large, powerful CPU desktop models. These devices use power even when not doing anything or in sleep mode. The virtual desktop is often an "instant on" device, not needing a "boot up" cycle. These computers might be turned off several hours a day versus the old desktops which stay on all the time.

Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc. recently deployed 2,200 thin client desktops throughout the company. Users had the same access to applications and services, and the company could reduce support staff and administration. Power consumption was cut significantly because the choice was to not deploy over 2,000 traditional desktop designs.

Without most of us being aware, technology has evolved to a state that, when used appropriately, it can reduce our use of resources and limit of environmental footprint. Virtualization is just one way that many data centers can become centers of green consciousness in the technology world.

Source: Top Ten Green IT Projects for 2012


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