Sleeping desktop computers, re-directed hot air and the fulfillment of a long-promised office dream are some of the ways that businesses can cut their power consumption, IT suppliers have told a conference at the United Nations.
The UN’s 19th Annual IT infrastructure conference held in New York City this week is focused exclusively on the impact of IT on the environment. Yesterday the conference was told by a senior US government representative that the IT industry is uniquely positioned to help address the problem of global warming (see separate story).
During a panel discussion IT industry chiefs were given their opportunity to tell their customers what they can do to cut kilowatt consumption.
Dell repeated advice already given by the company, which is to use power-saving features in Windows.
While the enterprise opportunities are tremendous, the larger opportunity is in the desktop environment. Nearly 40% of IT carbon emissions are from desktop computers and monitors, said Dell’s director of sustainable business Tod Arbogast.
According to Arbogast Dell has already saved $1.8m by doing that for the 100,000-odd desktop machines it uses, cutting each machines power consumption by around 65%.
IBM’s vice president of optimization talked up the power of virtualization, but also said that many data centers have implemented very unsophisticated cooling techniques. Far from striping hot aisles in between cold aisles, many data centers simply cool the entire environment to the temperature needed by the most sensitive equipment present.
If we ran our households like that, the kitchen would be the same temperature as the fridge, Lechner said.
Some of the improvements that businesses can make are as simple as the lifting of floor tiles to check that cabling is not obstructing air flows.
These sort of things can be realized in a couple of days, with an ROI in a couple of weeks. They’re simple things, with a lot of impact on cost, Lechner said.
IBM is currently in the middle of a data center consolidation project part of which will see it move applications from 39,000 Linux servers to 30 mainframes, and according to Lechner this year dedicated $1bn of spending to green technologies and services.
Lechner said that with 8 million square feet under its control, it is the world’s largest data center operator, and its consolidation project is the largest on the planet. IBM said it has set itself a target for 2012 to have reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 12% below their level in 2005 Climate change is critically important to IBM and its customers, said Wayne Balta, IBM’s vice president of corporate environmental affairs.
Xerox’ vice president of environment Patricia Calkins referred to a Business Week article of 30 years ago that coined the phrase the paperless office.
Since then, global paper consumption has tripled, Calkins said.Like the flying car and interplanetary travel, the paperless office has turned out to be a well intention myth of the twentieth century, she said.
But consumption of paper, electricity and printer overheads can be reduced by most businesses. Calkins said the most effective measures include printing on both sides of paper, using re-cycled paper, installing printers with US EPA Energy Star ratings, recycling end-of-life office equipment, and scanning emails to reduce reduce fax and postage costs.
One Xerox customer reduced its printing costs by over 20% and cut the number of printers it operated threefold to 5,000 Calkins said.