Recently I was asked by a manager of a local mid-sized company what I thought the benefits were for a business to pursue Green Information Technology. After all, it does cost a lot of money to buy new software and equipment. This got me thinking about just how much we don’t understand the impact of “going green.” So what, exactly is green information technology, and how can it benefit your company’s bottom line?
What Is Green Information Technology?
I think for most people “Green Information Technology” means just two things: saving electricity and helping the environment. For me, Green IT is much more than that. It has the same impact on a business as trickle-down economics has on our economy.
Let’s focus on power management and reducing hardware through virtualization. Aside from the fact that reducing hardware means less energy usage because there are fewer devices (and therefore reduced operating expenses), which other expenses can be reduced as a trickle-down effect of this one green initiative?
First, with less hardware you need fewer uninterruptible power supplies, and you need less cooling because fewer machines means less heat being generated in your server room. Both of these reduce energy requirements, but can we take it even further?
Let’s think about fewer maintenance contracts on equipment we no longer need. And then there are the intangible benefits that some companies realize such as no longer needing to relocate a data center to gain more space or even freeing up some floor space to expand a different department.
Benefits of Using Virtualization
So when we look at the trickle-down effect of using virtualization alone as a starting point we end up with faster disaster recovery time, as well as the following improvements.
|Rack space consumed by servers||Power consumption for unneeded servers|
|After-hours maintenance||Need to purchase new servers for every app|
|Time spent on new server procurements||Maintenance contracts on unneeded servers|
|Cost for server operating systems|
|Cost/time spent for restores and migrations|
|Cost of cooling IT equipment|
Trickle Down Effect of Green Information Technology
The fact is that most data centers use up to 1000x the power of same-sized office space. Studies have shown IT equipment can account for 9-10% of all energy consumed by businesses. So the trickle-down effect of this one Green Information Technology initiative impacts the cost of doing business on so many levels.
The ROI for such an initiative is estimated to be 3-12 months by some companies. In many cases it is almost immediate. I haven’t even touched all the “going green” cost-saving potential of virtualization, and virtualization is only one aspect of Green IT.