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Green IT: How Much Progress Have You Made?

August 10, 2009

Summary

Green IT impacts costs, compliance, and customer perceptions. This article explores ways to lower energy costs and fulfill corporate green mandates with your existing infrastructure.
Is your IT department “green” enough? According to a new report, being energy efficient is considered essential at most organizations.
The Symantec 2009 Global Green IT Report found that 97% of more than 1,000 senior-level IT executives surveyed said they’re at least discussing a green IT strategy, while 45% have already implemented green IT initiatives.
Interestingly enough, the report finds that IT decision makers today are justifying green IT solutions based on more than just their cost and IT efficiency benefits. Respondents cited the following key drivers: reducing electricity consumption, lowering cooling costs, and corporate pressure to “be green.”
But here’s the twist: 83% of the IT executives also said they’re now responsible (or they’re being cross-charged) for the electricity consumed in the data center. That’s a significant change in just the last year, and it’s bringing heightened visibility and accountability to bear on IT as the ultimate consumer of these resources.
That being the case, are you doing all you can to lower your data center electricity bill?
This article looks at the approaches data center managers can take to reduce energy costs. It then sets out a solution that can help you lower energy costs and fulfill corporate green mandates with your existing infrastructure.

The new energy crisis

The energy crisis in today’s increasingly complex data center is real. For many companies, energy “spend” is the second highest operating expense in the data center. According to the Symantec 2009 Global Green IT Report, many organizations are spending the equivalent of 50% of their data center hardware investment on energy and cooling costs. Some data centers even report an energy shortage. They simply can’t get enough energy.
Generally speaking, there are three approaches that data center managers can take to reduce energy costs: they can redesign the data center, upgrade their hardware, or use software to do more with existing resources.
A data center redesign can certainly help reduce energy consumption, but it’s not easy. It’s expensive, and it can cause downtime to data center operations. The ideal time to embark on such a project is when a major revamp of the data center is planned or when moving a data center to a different location.
The second option is to upgrade to hardware that is more energy-efficient. This approach will yield moderate power savings, but it may not fit within your standard technology refresh cycles. Also, upgrading hardware can be expensive.
The third option is to use software to identify physical servers and storage that can be optimized. Server and storage consolidation benefits you in several ways. Less hardware frees up physical space in the data center and eliminates the energy required to power it. There is also the issue of duplicated data. All too often you’re backing up multiple copies of the same data, or storing the same email in multiple places. By using deduplication techniques, you can reduce demand for disk space. You can also adopt tiered storage, where automated policies store data on the most appropriate storage tier, from disk to tape.
While the three options can complement each other, most organizations are likely to find that a software approach is the most practical way to begin reducing energy costs within their given budget constraints. Symantec’s Green IT software approach helps you do more with your existing server and storage resources, thereby reducing the associated annual operating costs to power and cool the data center.
There are five components to this approach:
  • Manage physical and virtual environments. Virtualization is a key tool to lower data center energy costs by increasing utilization of server and storage systems, thus enabling elimination of redundant existing hardware and delayed purchases of new hardware. At the same time, virtualization introduces a host of new operational management costs; specifically, managing backups and recovery, guaranteeing application availability, efficiently managing storage resources, and providing high service levels need to be rethought. If not carefully deployed, virtualization can add unwanted costs and complexity. Veritas Cluster Server from Symantec offers cross-platform clustering and automated failover of applications. Improved server utilization with high availability lowers your overall power and cooling requirements.
  • Stop buying storage. Do more with your existing investments before buying more storage. This reduces both hardware capital expenditures and energy operational costs. Symantec recommends using software to identify and reclaim unused capacity, reduce duplicate backup data, optimize archiving, and dynamically store data on the right storage tier. Veritas CommandCentral Storage from Symantec provides centralized visibility and control across physical and virtual heterogeneous storage environments.
  • Control endpoint power usage. An estimated 40% of IT equipment energy consumption occurs outside the data center by desktops and laptops. Studies have also shown that most PCs are configured with sub-optimal setups, if at all. The problem is becoming so acute that some utility companies now offer rebates to customers who can demonstrate that their desktops are being effectively power-managed. Symantec recommends intelligent power management for endpoints, allowing administrators to set power management policies and to apply them to all endpoints. Altiris Client Management Suite from Symantec enables administrators to set power management policies and to apply them to all the endpoints in an environment.
  • Optimize high availability and disaster recovery. Software can have a significant “green” impact on organizations that are configuring DR and HA capabilities for mission-critical applications. Software can be used to consolidate servers at primary and DR sites; avoid idle hardware; use lower cost storage at the DR site; and reduce the backup disk footprint. Veritas NetBackup from Symantec provides unified desktop, remote office, and data center protection across the entire enterprise.
  • Implement green IT practices. Executing on a plan for greener IT requires coordination and management. Some form of a Program Office may be beneficial in helping your organization fulfill its greener IT initiative. Symantec Consulting Services can help you design your data centers and endpoints for optimal equipment configuration, capacity, and power usage. Symantec may also be able to work with your utility provider to help you confirm the energy savings and receive financial rebates.

Good for the earth, good for business

Companies across all sectors are facing rising energy costs, as well as compliance requirements to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. Many IT-intensive businesses have turned to Symantec to help them implement Green IT. Here’s one example:
  • Symantec has worked with The ING Renault F1 Team for more than 12 years, providing the backbone for data security, availability, and systems management throughout the team. What began as a comparatively straightforward deployment of Veritas NetBackup software from Symantec to provide backup and recovery has expanded to an extensive deployment of Symantec technologies and services. NetBackup saves the Formula 1 team $180,000 each year in reduced data center costs through library downsizing, less building space arising from fewer fireproof safes, reduced tape library support, reduced media costs, and improved recovery time from data loss. Veritas Cluster Server software from Symantec saves the team $1.5 million each year in reduced hardware investment (the UNIX environment, for instance was reduced from 16 servers to six and the Windows environment from 120 servers to 80), lower support and maintenance fees, server consolidation, reduced administration, less unplanned server downtime, and reduced training.
Internally, Symantec has cut energy consumption at its Tucson, Arizona, Data Center by 67%. Deploying endpoint power management company-wide has enabled Symantec to save $800,000 per year in electricity costs.

Conclusion

Green data centers have more than just a positive environmental impact; they also generate cost savings and performance benefits. With energy costs in a typical data center doubling every five years, there is growing demand for software and systems that can reduce the need for electricity and make more efficient use of existing resources.
Symantec has a compelling value proposition to help you lower energy costs and fulfill corporate green mandates with your existing infrastructure. Companies that have adopted the Symantec Green IT Solution have typically lowered their data center energy costs by 20% or more. To get started, arrange for Symantec’s no-fee Energy ROI Analysis. This is a vendor-neutral tool that will show you how to optimize your servers and storage while delivering energy savings.
To learn more about the Symantec Green IT Solution, go to www.symantec.com/greenit.

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