Visit additional Tabor Communication Publications
October 05, 2007
We've heard so much about green IT initiatives recently you'd be forgiven for thinking that everybody had this under control. You might be surprised to learn that storage vendor ONStor found that 58 percent of the companies they surveyed were either still talking about what they were going to do, or still have no plans as yet to do anything.
Green IT hasn't had the headline profiles of recycling carrier bags, or not using your car, but the fact is that IT is a major contributor to CO2 emissions. The UK's Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) estimated last October that the UK's PCs and servers were already consuming 14 percent more power than the entire power consumption of Luxembourg, and of course the figure is still rising. All this power is also costing businesses dearly. IDC's John Humphreys, for example, estimates that power, cooling and other operational costs account for 70 percent of a server's lifetime cost. Yet all too frequently this has not been taken into account when servers were bought.
The penny is dropping though. A study by Sun Microsystems showed that since the first quarter of 2006 more than three-quarters of executives involved in buying decisions for data-centre equipment in enterprises have prioritised energy efficiency; although 63 percent admitted they didn't know what their energy costs or carbon emission rates were. Sun is one of the companies walking the walk, announcing in August that it had just completed a consolidation of one of its data centres which had seen 5,000 old servers, network switches and storage devices being switched off. ONStor's Bob Miller says: "Whilst the vendors appear to be taking this issue seriously the overall end user community is some way behind."
So what encourages end users to do something about this? Well according to OnStor's survey, 48 percent of organisations felt that a drying up of energy supply would drive a reduction in power consumption at their data centres; while higher power bills were driving business decisions in 66 percent of companies. "Ultimately, if energy costs continue to rise, more businesses will be forced to look at this by their shareholders. Longer term we can also expect regulators and governments to use big sticks to drive better efficiency in the name of environmental protection," notes Simon Sherrington, founder of Innovation Observatory, a company that specializes in tracking opportunities in green technology markets.
A central plank of green IT is server consolidation. According to OnStor's statistics, fifty-five percent of respondents stated that storage consolidation would be a central element of their green policy. While an even more upbeat Gartner survey found that 92 percent of respondents had a data centre consolidation planned for, in progress or completed.
Storage consolidation is really important, although equally essential to reducing energy consumption is ensuring companies have streamlined their applications and data. Duplicated data and applications are a major problem in many organizations and these cause a range of operational inefficiencies, including demand for more storage space. Most companies know that at the data and applications levels they are far from efficient, but the problem has been that the risk, cost and time to consolidate applications has put them off. Celona recently conducted a survey amongst telecom executives and 59 percent said they'd been so discouraged by an application migration that they decided not to go ahead with it. The new generation of migration technology overcomes these problems, making the long-awaited benefits of application consolidation a reality.
Many vendors have cottoned on to the fact that there is a sea change in the air, and this is not the oceanic smell of green altruism -- there is a distinct whiff of hard business reality about it. "Environmental sentiment is all well and good, and it helps that environmental issues currently enjoy a high media profile, but few companies have the financial freedom to go green overnight," says Sherrington. "They simply can't justify decommissioning equipment unless there is a clear cost benefit in terms of saved opex, or unless the kit is becoming obsolete anyway. That is why companies with comparatively high energy costs, and companies in markets with high rates of technology obsolescence, have been swifter out of the blocks than peers in other industry sectors."
BT is just such a company, being a major energy consumer and operating in a highly competitive market. It has already cut its carbon emissions by 60 percent since 1996, saving more than one million tonnes of CO2 per annum. This drive extends from data centres to applications-level consolidation. BT's One IT consolidation project, and similar projects in other large operators, is all about delivering business benefits. There are huge opportunities within large telcos to consolidate IT infrastructure and thereby enhance efficiency, which should not only deliver the ability to bring new services to market more quickly, but should also bring about savings in terms of both cash and carbon.
This point is underlined by BT's Steve O'Donnell who comments that to date One IT has enabled BT to decommission and consolidate over 1,000 racks of servers, resulting in a net savings of 22GW hours per year. "We calculate this translates to a cost savings of just under £1.8 million per annum or around 3,110 metric tonnes of carbon per year," says O'Donnell.
BT is using its supply chain to drive change by incorporating environmental and efficiency goals into its procurement process. It expects suppliers to work to reduce the energy consumption and impact of each new generation of products or services, and this will become a mandatory criterion in all tender adjudication. Donna Young, BT's head of Climate Change, notes that the extended supply chain is a powerful force for positive change. "About three years ago our large business customers started coming to us and asking about our carbon status. They understand the need to drive efficiency down their own supply chains," says Young. "The power of the supply chain, and of competition, to drive this sort of change should not be underestimated."
Celona's survey was conducted in May 2007 amongst 212 telecom IT professionals (see www.celona.com).
ONstor's survey was conducted across 440 companies between July and August 2007 (see www.onstor.com).
About the Author
Tony Sceales has spent over 20 years building and managing major products and development programmes in the global software industry. Much of that time has been spent working in telecom markets with the balance in the reinsurance, banking and systems software sectors. Tony co-founded SESI Ltd as a solutions and systems integration business in 1997, successfully transforming it to form Celona Technologies in 2004. Since then he has been CEO of Celona, leading the strategic thinking behind the growth of the company.
Jun 18, 2013 |
The world's largest supercomputers, like Tianhe-2, are great at traditional, compute-intensive HPC workloads, such as simulating atomic decay or modeling tornados. But data-intensive applications--such as mining big data sets for connections--is a different sort of workload, and runs best on a different sort of computer.
Jun 18, 2013 |
Researchers are finding innovative uses for Gordon, the 285 teraflop supercomputer housed at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) that has a unique Flash-based storage system. Since going online, researchers have put the incredibly fast I/O to use on a wide variety of workloads, ranging from chemistry to political science.
Jun 17, 2013 |
The advent of low-power mobile processors and cloud delivery models is changing the economics of computing. But just as an economy car is good at different things than a full size truck, an HPC workload still has certain computing demands that neither the fastest smartphone nor the most elastic cloud cluster can fulfill.
Jun 14, 2013 |
For all the progress we've made in IT over the last 50 years, there's one area of life that has steadfastly eluded the grasp of computers: understanding human language. Now, researchers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) are utilizing a Hadoop cluster on its Longhorn supercomputer to move the state of the art of language processing a little bit further.
Jun 13, 2013 |
Titan, the Cray XK7 at the Oak Ridge National Lab that debuted last fall as the fastest supercomputer in the world with 17.59 petaflops of sustained computing power, will rely on its previous LINPACK test for the upcoming edition of the Top 500 list.
05/10/2013 | Cleversafe, Cray, DDN, NetApp, & Panasas | From Wall Street to Hollywood, drug discovery to homeland security, companies and organizations of all sizes and stripes are coming face to face with the challenges – and opportunities – afforded by Big Data. Before anyone can utilize these extraordinary data repositories, however, they must first harness and manage their data stores, and do so utilizing technologies that underscore affordability, security, and scalability.
04/15/2013 | Bull | “50% of HPC users say their largest jobs scale to 120 cores or less.” How about yours? Are your codes ready to take advantage of today’s and tomorrow’s ultra-parallel HPC systems? Download this White Paper by Analysts Intersect360 Research to see what Bull and Intel’s Center for Excellence in Parallel Programming can do for your codes.
Join HPCwire Editor Nicole Hemsoth and Dr. David Bader from Georgia Tech as they take center stage on opening night at Atlanta's first Big Data Kick Off Week, filmed in front of a live audience. Nicole and David look at the evolution of HPC, today's big data challenges, discuss real world solutions, and reveal their predictions. Exactly what does the future holds for HPC?
Join our webinar to learn how IT managers can migrate to a more resilient, flexible and scalable solution that grows with the data center. Mellanox VMS is future-proof, efficient and brings significant CAPEX and OPEX savings. The VMS is available today.