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New frontier for the adoption of Green IT

10 November 2009

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Organisations are embracing green technologies not just for cutting down carbon emissions but also for saving money, writes Srikanth R.P. Besides unified computing and virtualisation, Indian enterprises need to make use of green initiatives like ‘zero-watt PC’ and ‘follow the moon strategy’ to measure the energy consumption in real time.

Just six months ago, India Inc was in the eye of a perfect storm. With dampened demand both in the export and domestic markets, IT functions across companies in different industries were asked to look within, and suggest ways to cut down operational costs, and simultaneously boost growth.

Image credits: Google/ Organisations are embracing green technologies

Forced into a corner, Indian CIOs began to proactively look at Green IT initiatives not just for cutting down carbon emissions, but more importantly for saving money.

The power of technology to help organisations go green has tremendous potential—and this can happen in various ways. For example, many Indian organisations today have a mandate that individuals or teams must first explore videoconferencing or telepresence options before putting forward a travel request.

The larger the scale of operations, larger are the savings. This is the new frontier for the adoption of Green IT, and will see organisations shifting their focus from data centres to embedding their Green IT strategies in business processes (such as travel requests). This transition is nicely captured in a Forrester Research report titled ‘Mapping IT’s Green Opportunities.’

Wipro is a prime example of the transformation and cost savings that organisations can achieve by using Unified Communication tools. The firm has been able to save close to 100 trips per year for piloted projects, with approximate savings of USD 2.5 million.

"A single airplane crossing the Atlantic can use over 60,000 liters of fuel – close to as much fuel as a car consumes in 50 years"

To put this achievement in perspective, consider the following facts. Global aviation accounts for about 2% of all human-caused carbon dioxide emissions. A single airplane crossing the Atlantic can use over 60,000 liters of fuel – close to as much fuel as a car consumes in 50 years.

When you consider that a firm such as Wipro has saved over 100 trips per year, one can imagine the overall reduction in carbon emissions.

Using Virtualisation to cut down emissions

With costs related to energy consumption on the rise, CIOs have also embraced Virtualisation with a vengeance.

Virtualisation technologies enable enterprises to consolidate the number of servers in a data center. In India, enterprises such as HDFC Bank and Reliance Capital have used the power of virtualisation technologies to aggressively boost efficiencies and reduce costs.

Reliance Capital, for instance, has consolidated 94 development and production servers on just 15 servers using virtualisation solutions from VMware. Similarly, HDFC Bank has consolidated and virtualised servers, which has helped the Bank in pooling an average of 20% to 30% spare capacity available in various standalone systems and application solutions.

The impact on the environment is huge, as every physical server reduced through virtualisation helps in cutting power and cooling costs. Virtualisation major VMware estimates that every server virtualised saves 7000 kWh of electricity annually, or about USD 700 in energy costs.

The firm also estimates that for every server virtualised, 4 tons of CO2 are eliminated, which is equivalent to taking 1.5 cars off the highway.
Another stellar example is Hexaware Technologies.

“By embracing virtualisation technologies and driving the consolidation of data processing and storage, we have been able to reduce the utilisation of floor space by 80% and energy consumption in data centres by 40%,” explains N Nataraj, CIO, Hexaware Technologies.

Every physical server reduced results in lower energy costs. For example, in a server consolidation initiative, Infosys Technologies has undertaken an aggressive plan to replace more than 200 smaller systems with equivalent high capacity ‘Blade Servers’ equipped with Quad core CPUs.

"Hexaware Technologies is creating a green campus that is designed to significantly reduce or eliminate the negative impact of buildings on the environment"

The plan has been executed successfully using just eight high-capacity servers. As a result, costs associated with maintenance, monitoring, and energy consumption of over 200 servers have been reduced drastically.

Additionally, the consolidation of 200 core infrastructure servers to less than 100 is expected to reduce the power demand of these servers by around 80%. The estimated impact on the environment due to these virtualisation initiatives is equivalent to planting 4,000 trees and getting 244 cars off the road.

A world of green buildings

Traditionally, most enterprises have looked at data centers to cut down energy-related costs. This includes undertaking initiatives such as Virtualisation or consolidation, or building new efficient data centres with better power management techniques.

Having exhausted all possible avenues to squeeze out more energy savings from data centres, Indian enterprises are now looking at optimising the energy consumption of the entire building or campus.

Hexaware Technologies, for instance, is creating a green campus that is designed to significantly reduce or eliminate the negative impact of buildings on the environment. The operations and maintenance at the campus is designed to reduce energy consumption by 30%.

Similarly, Infosys has engaged in a meticulous level of planning to make its buildings energy-efficient. For example, the company has challenged its architects to come up with designs that enable maximum usage of natural light. Artificial lights have also been replaced by luminescent lighting that consumes less energy.

As part of the green drive, Infosys is also intelligently leveraging technology to ensure optimal usage of electricity. For example, sensors are deployed to automatically turn off lights, monitors, and IP phones when employees are not at their desks.

What can you expect in the future?

Though most green initiatives of Indian organisations have been concentrated on deploying Virtualisation and Unified Communication technologies, the future looks exciting, if you take a look at some developments that are happening on the global level.

"In tomorrow’s networked world, enterprises will be able to shift their electricity providers and take advantage of off-peak rates"

For example, Fujitsu announced the launch of the Zero-Watt PC this year. Typically, desktops and monitors connected to the main power source continue to consume between 1 - 5 watts of electricity. Compared to traditional models, Fujitsu’s Zero-Watt PC does not consume any power in Standby mode. When you consider a large enterprise having thousands of desktops, energy savings can be colossal. As the drive towards going green accelerates, expect more vendors to follow suit.

In tomorrow’s networked world, enterprises will be able to shift their electricity providers and take advantage of off-peak rates. For example, a recent study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Carnegie Mellon found out that companies that operate numerous data centres across the world can save millions of dollars per year in electricity costs if they are able to dynamically shift computing power across their data centres when energy prices are the cheapest.

This is known as the ‘Follow the Moon’ strategy, which means that enterprises can take advantage of lower costs across different time zones and benefit from off-peak periods. You would be surprised to know that there is already a product in the market from a vendor called ‘Cassatt,’ which dynamically shifts loads to find the cheapest energy prices.

In the future, you would also be able to measure your energy consumption in real time, instead of say, once a month, when you receive your monthly utility bill statement. For instance, Google is working with a number of utilities, including Reliance Energy in India, to enable consumers to see their personal electricity consumption on a home computer.

Once consumers have information regarding which appliances consume the most energy, they can use this knowledge to use energy more efficiently. Think of the environmental impact of one billion Indians using power more efficiently. Now, that would truly be a transformation!

Global Goals 2030
festival ECONOMIA trento
Helpi - your personal safety app
» Online climate conference
Online,  November 5, 2012.
» Open Knowledge Festival 2012
Helsinki, Finland,  September 17,2012.
» ITU Green Standards Week
39, quai du Président Roosevelt 92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux, France,  September 17

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