How are Companies Implementing Green IT Strategies?
There are numerous ways in which companies can reduce the environmental impact of their IT operations. Some companies are using special software - such as Faronics Power Save - which enables them to easily apply the most energy-efficient power management settings to computers company-wide. Others are reducing their reliance on paper - by using a paperless invoicing system, for example - or even making their offices completely paperless. And technology is increasingly being used to enable telecommuting and/or online meetings to reduce travel.
Buying used/refurbished IT equipment is another way that companies can be a little greener. In the past, buying used equipment such as servers used not to be easy to due, in part, to the resale restrictions put in place by hardware vendors. However, companies such as RICOM are making it extremely easy to buy used equipment with a full warranty. Further, these companies also buy equipment, enabling businesses to sell their redundant hardware rather than simply leaving it shelved.
But server virtualization is possibly the most significant transforming technology to have emerged. What is server virtualization? Before explaining, some background information is probably in order. A server is simply a computer that has been optimized to perform a specific function, such as handling email. For much the same reasons that you only run operating system at a time on your home computer, companies only run one operating system at a time on their servers. But as computers have become increasingly powerful, this one-to-one approach has left servers severely underutilized and many companies are now finding that their high horse-powered machines are only doing 20% of the work that they are capable of doing.
This is where virtualization comes into play. Virtualization products such as VMware Infrastructure and Microsoft Virtual Server enable multiple operating systems to run simultaneously on the same server. So, how’s it work? Basically, virtualization products create what are known a virtual machines (VMs). A VM is a single file into which all the elements of a physical computer are encapsulated (in other words, each VM has its own software-based – or virtual - RAM, CPU, etc.). Because each VM has its own virtual hardware, it is not tied to real physical hardware and so multiple VMs can be run at the same time on the same server.
The main benefit of this is that it enables workloads to be consolidated to a reduced number of servers, with consolidation rations of up to 15:1 being possible. A typical server will use anywhere between $300 and $1,000 worth of electricity per year (including cooling costs) and generating that electricity can result in the production of several tons of CO2. Accordingly, reducing the number of servers in use can substantially help both a company’s bottom line and the environment.