Saving green by going green Featured

7:00pm EDT November 25, 2007

In today’s environmentally conscious economy, many companies have adopted numerous “green” initiatives. Whether it’s organizing carpools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or recycling bottles, cans and paper goods, conservation has become a growing concern for many organizations.

“Information technology holds the keys to new conservation opportunities that leverage technologies to increase computing resource efficiencies within the data center,” according to Kelly M. Chinen, virtualization practice manager for Agile360.

Smart Business talked with Chinen for more insight into going green with your IT infrastructure.

Why should a company be concerned with making its data center more efficient?

As business reliance on computer resources continues to increase, many companies are faced with challenges around where those systems will reside and how to provide the required electrical power and cooling to keep those systems up and running. A more efficient data center provides increased computing capacity while reducing electrical power consumption and physical space requirements.

How is it possible to reduce the number of computing resources if business requirements continue to grow?

Although computing resource requests continue to increase in most organizations, it is common to find that existing resources are heavily underutilized. In fact, many computing resources are running at 5 to 10 percent of their full capacity. This means that up to 95 percent of the physical computing resources are sitting idle. Imagine a single person driving to work each day in a 10-passenger van. It’s pretty obvious that leaving nine empty seats is not an efficient use of the van’s available capacity, but this is what many organizations are facing today.

Server virtualization is the technology that allows for greater physical computing resource efficiency and reduces the amount of physical computing resources required to meet ongoing business requirements.

What is server virtualization, and how does it help to reduce the number of physical computing resources?

Server virtualization allows multiple operating systems along with their applications to reside on the same physical computing resource, which increases both its utilization and efficiency. Although multiple systems are running on the same physical computing resource, each system remains isolated and does not affect the stability of its neighbors. Server virtualization provides the means to reduce the number of physical computing resources in the data center through server consolidation, which is the process of migrating existing or new systems onto the same physical computing resource.

How do I prevent server consolidation from affecting service level agreements?

Proper planning and preparation is essential for the successful implementation of a server consolidation effort. In situations where existing physical resources are to be migrated into a virtual infrastructure, ‘capacity planning’ tools are available to monitor utilization levels over a period of time. Typically, utilization levels are captured over a period of one month to properly identify average and peak loads. Following the collection period, the data is analyzed to determine the amount of physical computing resources necessary to provide the required service levels.

How does going green reduce server computing costs?

By reducing the number of physical computing resources in the data center, electrical power and cooling costs may be significantly reduced. Reducing the number of existing physical computing resources also provides spare data center capacity for future growth, delaying or eliminating the need for future data center expansion.

Are there other programs that increase the ROI of going green with server virtualization?

Some local power companies are offering rebates to businesses that reduce their power consumption through the removal of physical computing systems from their data centers. Each power company has a specific process that must be followed in order to obtain these rebates. It is important to stay on top of this process to ensure maximum savings.

This sounds great for large companies, but can small companies have an impact on green initiatives?

Yes, small companies may also see an impact on green initiatives. Many smaller companies have been able to reduce server power and cooling requirements through server virtualization. One company had a requirement for 10 new servers. Instead of purchasing 10 physical servers, it was able to consolidate those 10 servers onto two host machines. This not only resulted in an 80 percent reduction of physical servers, but it also significantly reduced the amount of power, cooling and rack space required to support this new initiative. The IT staff was able to allocate the time that would have been spent supporting the additional hardware to supporting the business.

KELLY M. CHINEN is the virtualization practice manager at Agile360. Reach him at Kelly.Chinen@agile360.com or (949) 253-4106.