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Fresh Thinking on IT Operations for 100,000 Industry Executives

IT Infrastructure specialist Richardson Eyres recently issued a press release to help drum up some consulting business in the Retail market but make some generally applicable and interesting points worth looking at.

Even though most organizations are making energy cuts a top priority for 2008/9, many are not taking green issues seriously enough and are adopting a do-it-yourself approach.

Funnily enough consulting firms take a dim view of their potential customers adopting a DIY approach. In some specialist cases consultants are right but in others much can be done by the average end user, supported by consultants.

“Organisations going for the informal approach can lack structure in their environmental policies and this can affect the level of success that they achieve in reducing both energy costs and CO2 emissions,” said Adam Kemp, director, RichardsoNEyres. “While computers may drive efficiency, the data centres that run businesses are often far from efficient. They are at the heart of environmental challenges created by IT but the average retailer just does not have the necessary knowledge to bring about change.”

Here is the six point plan that Richardson Eyres recommend. Because it is a bit generic, I have added some value between the lines:

Infrastructure review. To kick off their green data centre campaigns, retailers must first undertake an IT infrastructure and data centre review, leading to an action plan to simultaneously reduce cost, improve performance and cut environmental impact.

An essential first step. What equipment do we have, particularly focussing on what we can switch off or decommission? Are we getting business value from these systems or are they unnecessary? Are there multiple systems that do the same thing, can we consolidate functionality into the best one and switch the rest off? (E.g multiple email systems, multiple accounting systems etc..)

Emissions review. Conducting a data centre power and emissions review will create a foundation for understanding how to meet or exceed government or corporate environmental targets and will help meet the requirements of ISO14001 which specifies the requirements for an environmental management system 

This is an area where some specialist help can be invaluable. Companies that can measure the Power Usage Efficiency of their Data Center and have a clear understanding of the steps to improve. Hot and Cold Aisle separation, blanking plates and floor maintenance can be a really simple start. I write about how to reduce your data center power bill in this blog.

Power priority. With power costs undoubtedly continuing to rise and with many estimates suggesting that the price of running and cooling hardware will soon outstrip the cost of the hardware itself, this is clearly an area for improvement.

Sorry guys, the TCO model for servers already shows that power costs (including cooling) outstrip infrastructure costs. There are a number of very smart IT infrastructure companies like VeryPC that understand this and kill the competition with their incredible power efficient designs.

Virtualization. Server and storage virtualisation enables you to concentrate workloads onto fewer servers and storage devices. Replacing physical servers and storage devices with virtual machines reduces the energy required to run them, thus reducing CO2 emissions and running costs. It also improves utilisation of available hardware.

Virtualization is often a good thing, however it is important to do the sums before starting. Some blade servers use a lot more power than the equivalent stand alone servers.

Consolidation. Whether it involves moving remote IT facilities into a centrally managed location or combining existing data centres, consolidation can reduce your carbon footprint as well as simplifying management and reducing cost.

This is often very good advice but is often easier said than done. Here using a dedicated consulting company to help can be invaluable. Personally I always use Glasshouse Technologies with their Reflector methodology.

Star rating. When purchasing new IT equipment, always check its rating under the European Community Energy Star program for energy efficient office equipment.

This is somewhat sensible advice but Energy Star does not include heat output, maximum operating temperature and the many other things that drive energy costs.

There Are 2 Responses So Far. »

  1. “Personally I always use Glasshouse Technologies with their Reflector methodology” Really? You always use this methodology? Given that it was only released 5th August 2008, I doubt this, exactly how manner DC projects did you undertake within this 25 day period?

  2. Glasshouse bought Reflector from a UK company called DCMI back in 2007 so I have run three major projects on Reflector personally.


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