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Utility Bills Key to Greener IT

October 4, 2008

By DiRamio, Denise

Increasing cost of electricity puts pressure on IT departments to conserve. Due to the steady increase in the cost of electricity over the last few years, many organizations have begun to focus on reducing energy use. When looking for ways to lower the utility bill, the spotlight often shines on the company energy hog: the IT department. The prevalence of computing equipment in most enterprises makes the IT department a major source of power consumption.

Every organization that wants to cut costs looks at reducing power consumption. The energy costs tied to computers, servers, cooling systems, switches and storage systems consume a large percentage of the IT budget. For every dollar spent on computer hardware, a company typically spends 50 cents on energy-related costs each year, according to research firm IDC. By 2010, 71 cents of every IT dollar will be devoted to powering and cooling IT equipment.

IT executives say they are concerned about energy efficiency, however, many are not aware of how much energy their IT operations use-even though this information is fundamental in energy-reduction efforts. CDWs Energy Efficient Information Technology (E2IT) Report, based on a survey of 778 information technology professionals, indicates that almost half of IT organizations in business, government and education do not know exactly how much energy they use.

Typically, those who manage technology have little, if any, interaction with those who pay the utility bills. “The first step in reducing energy consumption is to know what you are spending, yet more than 40 percent of technology professionals say they don’t see their organization’s energy bill,” says Mark Gambill, vice president of CDW.

IT executives armed with information about their energy consumption are more likely to implement energy-reduction measures, Gambill says. When someone in the IT department receives reports, authorizes payments or otherwise has responsibility for the amount and cost of energy used in the organization’s IT operations, he is more likely to develop strategies to manage power demand and energy consumption.

When IT organizations have access to information about their energy use and take steps to manage their energy consumption, substantial savings are possible. CDWs E2IT report found that 39 percent of IT professionals whose organizations implemented energy- management initiatives have reduced their total IT energy costs by as much as 40 percent annually.

“As energy costs continue to escalate, IT organizations are faced with choices regarding how to increase the energy efficiency of their data centers and network infrastructures. These choices range from slow, steady improvements to quick, bold strokes,” says Mark Panico, president of Ortronics/Legrand.

Organizations have successfully reduced IT energy costs by employing measures such as:

* buying equipment with low-power/ low-wattage processors;

* deploying ENERGY STAR 4.0 qualifying devices;

* training employees or using software to shut down equipment when it is not in use;

* implementing server consolidation, optimization and virtualization;

* improving airflow; and

* making full use of power management tools.

“There is no silver bullet,” says Gambill. “Organizations that are successful at reducing IT energy costs take ownership of their energy bill and advocate efficiency improvements throughout IT operations.”

Every organization can benefit from energy efficiency. Analyst Greg Schulz, founder of The StorageIO Group, says solving power issues makes sense from both economic and environmental standpoints. “It’s fairly simple,” says Schulz. “You use power more wisely, and you save money.”

The first step in reducing energy consumption is to know what you are spending.

Communications News’ GreenTech column focuses on a variety of issues concerning the green IT movement. You can contact Associate Editor Denise DiRamio at ddiramio@comnews.com.

Copyright Nelson Publishing Sep 2008

(c) 2008 Communications News. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.