Green Computing

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Green Computing & Green IT

What is Green Computing or Green IT?

Bill Gates predicted many years ago of a PC in every home.  He was widely considered to be simply promoting an unlikely scenario with the aim of boosting Microsoft's profits.  However, how right he truly was.  Not just at home but also virtually every commercial organisation of any size is heavily reliant upon IT.  At home there is little we can do regarding our use of IT, other than not leaving our PC's switched on uneccessarily, but for organisations there is massive scope for affecting energy use, recycling, the public image, and profits through adopting a green approach to IT.

Why Do I Need A Green IT Strategy?

IT Executives are at last coming under increasing pressure to deliver a Green IT or Green Computing Strategy.  Executive boards are finally recognising there can be a genuine competitive advantage in adopting green issues and signing up to a low carbon emissions footprint and this is not a policy only for do-gooders or those with little other commercial pressures.  Having a Green IT Strategy can directly affect the view of the organisations customers.  Customers will clearly continue to evaluate suppliers based on product/service offerings and their costs, however, if all else is equal, then choosing a supplier with a low carbon policy can be a key differentiator.  Most people do want to support green issues and adopting suppliers with low-carbon strategies helps buyers to feel good about their decisions. Green IT also brings with it direct cost benefits for the organisation, making it an easier sell to the more sceptical boards of directors.  With a Green Computing or IT Strategy we can reduce equipment, power, air-conditioning, and support costs.  This applies throughout the enterprise  not just in data-centres or our server rooms but desktop computers as well. Let's look at some objectives we might want to achieve through adopting a Green IT Strategy...

Core Objectives of Green Computing Strategies

Core objectives for a Green IT Strategy could include: -
• Minimising energy consumption from the IT estate

• Purchasing green energy and using green suppliers

• Reducing the paper and other consumables used

• Minimising equipment disposal requirements

• Reducing travel requirements for employees/customers

Let's take each of these targets in turn and consider some typical options for inclusion in our computing strategy.

Minimising energy consumption

Newer equipment can be a way of easily reducing energy consumption requirements.  New PCs, Servers, infrastructure equipment and printers typically consume far less energy and have better power management features. Virtualise the servers and desktops.  The old model of dedicated physical hardware to support server applications and services can now be replaced with virtualisation technology to create logical separation or services but without physical separation.  Basically you can use virtualisation software to carve up your single server into 5 or 10 virtual servers.  There are many benefits to virtualising your IT such as faster DR recovery, platform standardisation reducing support costs but from a Green IT Strategy perspective we are most interested in reducing the number of servers required, and hence power consumption.  How far you can virtualise machines varies on the types of applications and services running, but typical infrastructure servers can normally be reduced by over 80% in terms of numbers of boxes. Having decided that our Green Computing Strategy should include virtualising our server estate, let's look at the plethora of PCs deployed throughout the enterprise.  Using virtualisation again we can replace PCs with terminals providing substantial savings in power consumption, purchase an operational costs.  Hang on, I hear you say, my users would be horrified at the prospect of losing their PC's.  This is a normal first reaction but in reality they will...
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