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Data Centers Sprouting Green

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While Steve Jobs finally joined the ranks of the eco-evangelizers green tech reform shouldn’t stick to consumer electronics. And it isn’t. Internet infrastructure and data centers, with their massive energy consumption habits, are getting some attention too.

IBM said today that it plans to spend a billion dollars a year on making data centers more energy efficient and cost effective — in its own infrastructure as well as its customers. Big Blue’s Big green plan will include spending on “virtualization technologies” and “provisioning software,” which kicks servers into power-saving mode faster.

Energy efficiencies in data centers not only cuts down on carbon emissions, but can save companies significant money as well. Google has predicted that its data center power consumption costs could be set to overtake its server hardware costs. Yowsa.

Likely in response to IBM’s announcement, Sun sent us over some data points on their data center green efforts. Sun says its Sun Fire T1000/T2000 server is the most energy efficient server on the market today, and prevents about 350 million pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere a year. PG&E also offers a rebate for it.

A recent report from Forrester Research says that 33% of North American companies surveyed think environmental concerns are “very important” and 52% say somewhat important when it comes to planning IT operations.

Forrester points to 4 reasons why companies are looking to make their IT infrastructure more green:

  1. The halo effect: get positive publicity
  2. Help customers save money with efficiencies
  3. Comply with regulations
  4. Save money themselves

But beyond the good progress, Forrester also says that only 22% of North American companies factor green into their purchasing criteria. So right now companies are still driven by the costs that can be saved with the switch, not the bigger eco picture. No surprise, these are for-profit companies. Well, it’s a start.

3 Responses to “Data Centers Sprouting Green”

  1. So would we be looking at a new metric for data centers involving cost per operation with regards to electricity consumption?

    What I’d love to see is ways that people can “greenify” their own data centers with existing gear.

  2. We call this combo of “virtualization” and “automated provisioning” a virtual lab and many companies are using these for testing and other short-term or dynamic application uses. It would seem there is a multiplier effect when you reduce the number of servers, up their utilization, and then eliminate the manual efforts around getting them to do what you need them to. There are some offsetting impacts due to increased power consumption but hopefully new generations of power-friendlier processors and server designs begin to address this.