If you haven’t already started to think about your green credentials, then you really should and not only because the Government is thinking about setting a 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, it also makes financial sense as well.
Some large organisations are already having to produce carbon footprint and annual CRC (Carbon Reduction Commitment) reports and are having to pay for carbon credits. This will continue as the Government and EU strive to deliver on the targets they have set.
This is making ‘Green’, the new buzz word around town and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, offering ideas to make your organisation more environmentally friendly. Personally, we believe that the environmental incentive is a nice by-product; the real incentive is the cost saving which can be made by conducting some simple changes. However, once the quick wins have been implemented, there are still savings and efficiencies which can be made but these require a lot more planning and some cost before they will show their true benefits.
Any green initiative or cost saving exercise starts by understanding what you have and where it is located. Without this knowledge you have an uphill battle from the start and the costs start to increase as the investigation becomes more manual.
There are a number of solutions in the market which propose to do ‘Intelligent’ system management but be wary as a lot of these are nothing more than intelligent cabling solutions or network monitoring solutions which have been modified rather than purpose built for the job.
The right solution should use a layered approaching, starting by automatically discovering all of your IP assets and then linking these into your network infrastructure to provide end to end visibility of your systems.
The system should be able to store all of the management information and should be able to replay this into any other part of the system. Intelligent infrastructure is a generic name which we apply to the management of all IP based systems and all of the information which surrounds and is pertinent to these devices. It is about real time management, monitoring and visibility of events as they occur or soon after.
So where do you start?
The starting point will to a large extent be dictated by the visibility you have to your systems. To make this really work, you will at some point need to think about creating a centralised management database for your organisation.
However, even without a management system in place you may be able to start in the Data centre as this should be documented and a known entity.
If you have a unified management system and visibility of your IP assets, then start at the desktop as this is where quick wins can be made.
Historically we have all tried to chill the data centre rather than just chilling the servers. The concept of cold aisles is not a new one but unless you are rebuilding the data centre very few people consider creating cold aisles.
I often hear people say that it is too difficult to change the layout of the data centre, there is not enough room to make it viable, changing cabinets are too expensive or that they don’t have the time or resources to make the changes.
If you can create hot and cold aisles as shown below you can quickly start to reduce your costs without much effort. Servers by design draw cool air in and blow hot air out. This design ensures that you are only cooling the areas that need it.
A tip I picked up recently which helps to contain the air flow in this and other data centre layouts is to use bathroom curtains, the thick plastic is an excellent insulator keeping the divide between hot and cold. I know it sounds strange but it does work and is being used by a number of very big organisations.
Modern servers can also work at much higher ambient temperatures than older equipment, increasing the temperature by even a couple of degrees over the year will help to reduce cost and your carbon footprint.
Workstation / printer management
Printers have historically had a sleep mode and the new printers on the market are all energy aware and efficient, however, most places where I have worked have almost always had far more printers than are actually needed.
Reducing the printer count, moving to multifunctional energy efficient printers and challenging the paper costs can create savings.
However, it is at the workstations where real saving can potentially be achieved, power management tools such as Nightwatchman can power down all of your Workstations out of hours. Combine this with a wake on lan (WOL) solution and you can start to manage your devices as and when they are required.
One company I have been dealing with recently saved £20,000 per annum by simply putting the workstations into a hibernation state after business hours and at the weekends.
Energy efficient lighting can save up to 80% of the power of tungsten dichroic down lighters, replacing 30 of these would potentially save around 3,750 kWh of power and 1.65 tonnes of CO2 a year.
Turning lights off or installing sensors to automatically turn off unused lighting will also over time help to save a considerable amount of energy and CO2.
Virtualisation is providing substantial cost savings for organisations, taking the physical servers out of the Data centre not only reduces the power and cooling requirements it also cuts out the physical hardware costs.
But not everything can be virtualised and managing the virtual environment brings its own set of challenges. Virtualisation is critical to your green strategy but make it a strategic planned activity, rather than as is often the case, a reaction to an issue or simply a means to save money.
Knowing how much energy is being used is as important as controlling it. This seems like an obvious statement, but I bet if I asked 100 companies how much energy they use in the data centre? How many would be able to tell me the answer.
If I then asked how many could tell me how much energy a cabinet is using, or how much energy each server is taking, the figure will probably be a lot less.
Knowing the power consumption of every device can help you put in the steps to save a lot of money. It may seem cost effective to keep an old server running but compared to the energy saving features in new servers and the buy back opportunity’s provided by the major manufacturers, the savings quickly start to become more appealing. Combine this with ‘Virtualisation’ and we start to create a tangible return on investment.
Reducing costs and saving the planet is something achievable and if you haven’t already started, savings can be quickly made and with minimal impact to the business. However, to actually realise the full benefits takes time and effort and can only be achieved if it forms part of the organisations overall strategy.