Visibility First Step in Reducing IT Energy Costs

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Reining in IT Energy Consumption

Many IT organizations don't account for energy costs when formulating their IT budgets and have little visibility into the true costs.

I'm not certain if, as Dell CIO Robin Johnson writes in a Forbes column, an "overwhelming majority of CIOs" never see a bill listing their organization's energy expenditures.


But it might help explain the results of a Kelton Research survey commissioned by IT services firm Avanade. The survey, released in April, found 53 percent of companies did not take energy costs into account when developing their IT budgets. One in four of the respondents said energy consumption related to IT was one of their three biggest costs on an annual basis.


Like Dell's Johnson, the director of Avanade's Infrastructure Services Line said many organizations lack visibility into these costs because a facilities department operating under a separate budget pays the electric bill. Johnson says giving CIOs transparency into power costs would encourage them to become more efficient, and thus save their companies money.


Using virtualization helped Dell "add 35 percent more computing capacity without using one additional watt," he writes. Arranging data centers to keep the hot air hot and cold air cold can cut power bills and improve system efficiencies by 20 percent or more, adds Johnson.


Making data centers more efficient with virtualization and smart cooling strategies may even help companies delay building new data centers. When Dell hit space limits on two data centers in Austin, Texas, it tweaked the existing centers to optimize power use rather than building a new one, deferring a $250 million investment. As Johnson writes, "the greenest data center is the one you never build."


Johnson suggests several steps for CIOs interested in lowering their energy costs:

  • Put power monitoring in the right places. Additional power monitoring "is not expensive and is readily available," he writes.
  • Look at the physical configuration of data centers. After doing so, Dell discovered it could help cool its Austin data centers by drawing in ambient air from outdoors. This results in annual savings of "hundreds of thousands of dollars," he says.
  • Consider energy efficiency when making future hardware and software purchases based on power efficiency.
  • Look for ways to take advantage of virtualization to increase the efficiency of existing IT investments. "Replacing existing hardware and introducing virtualization software can multiply your capacity by a factor of five or greater in the same power envelope," he says.


As IT Business Edge's Art Cole wrote last month, interest in green technology is growing strongly. For more good advice, in June, Art wrote about some simple steps to a cooler data center and in July about how software can be used to reduce energy use.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Oct 1, 2010 9:07 AM Morgan Rigsbee Morgan Rigsbee  says:

Going green is great for any company. Getting your CompTIA Strata Green IT certificate is always a good idea. You can receive training for the certification from Global Knowledge at http://www.globalknowledge.com/training/course.asp?pageid=9&courseid=13290&catid=495&country=United+States


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