In today’s world, energy efficiency and environmentally friendly have become buzzwords in the IT industry, as lobby groups and government ministers pursue initiatives to make us more green.
Critics say that it is more important than ever to make sure your network and data center is running efficiently as part of a green networking strategy to cut hardware and software costs, save on power and contribute to corporate environmental policies.
However, green IT must make financial sense for organizations, especially as legacy environments are already being made as efficient as possible through virtualization technologies, such as increasing server processing capacity use from below 10% to 75% and over.
IT to turn us green?
Recent UN estimates found that the smart use of information and communication technologies (ICT) could save 15% of global emissions – about 7.8 gigatons of CO2 a year – by 2020, with only a small increase in ICT’s own emissions.
It also found that ICT could close the increasing gap between the ambitions of countries to cut their carbon emissions and the action needed to stave off a 2°C temperature rise this century by up to 87%.
A recent ranking of the largest IT companies by Greenpeace on their energy and climate-related activities reflects this growing concern. It suggests that the industry should not only minimize the impact of its operations but also play an active role in helping other industries do so.
The green of IT regularly garners headlines. Some examples from the past year are
- Facebook's Open Compute Project Initiative,
- Google's solar initiatives
- Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System
- Yahoo's Chicken Coop Data Center Design.
5 tips to go green
So, how can your organization begin to think about being better ambassadors of Green IT? Here’s some useful tips:
- remove large amounts of unnecessary data from your network. Using data compression, de-duplication and releasing unused storage can help reduce energy consumption.
- measure how much power is used by your servers and identify inefficient hardware. Through monitoring the amount of useful activity across physical and virtual servers, you could cut down on emissions and wasted power. Most servers are estimated to be used less than 15% of the time they are powered on, with idle hardware using as much as 90% of operating power consumption.
- consider fanless switches. When used in open smaller scale deployments such as classrooms, retail outlets and open plan offices, such a move could save unnecessary IT waste.
- consolidate server rooms and data centers by deploying larger switches. When appropriate for data demand, you can aggregate the same bandwidth to servers, which would otherwise be provided by teaming network cards in a server.
- consider power over Ethernet (PoE) networking deployments. PoE devices enable an IT manager to make power-rationing decisions centrally for all PoE devices, by configuring the application through the switches to give greater control over energy consumption.
Are you willing to invest and make your IT ecosystem more green?
After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.