Virtualization Offers IT Departments the Way to a Greener Path
With increasing pressure on IT departments and CIOs to manage business growth while controlling energy consumption, an information consulting firm has assembled a package of services for them to "go greener."
According to SandOaks of Austin, Texas ( www.sandoaks.com), IT power consumption in the US has more than doubled over the past six years and now accounts for more than 3 percent of energy use. More than half of the Fortune 500 companies are actively implementing revised corporate responsibility policies.
With new server and intelligent cooling options available today, a 20,000-square-foot data center should be able to achieve energy savings in the 40 to 45 percent range over past years, according to studies compiled by SandOaks.
The studies show that companies today are wrestling with managing customer and business growth rates. This increased demand is driving all businesses' functions to operate at maximum efficiency and IT is no exception. IT is becoming more aligned with the business and adopting virtualization as the primary strategy to address the enterprise's growing needs. Through virtualization, IT can support new application deployments with reduced resources for people, power, and physical space. Many companies in large metropolitan areas are simply running out of physical space for deploying additional servers.
In addition, companies are adopting virtualization as a key enabler of green strategies within their businesses. Virtualization delivers savings in the areas of power consumption, personnel requirements, and physical space requirements. The rising cost of electricity and the reduced availability in some areas make reducing power consumption a key goal for all companies. The well-publicized power "brown outs" in California and the increased cost of power in the state are driving some of the largest corporations to move their data centers out of state. Seeking other options, Google built one of the largest solar power arrays on the rooftops of its campus as a way to ensure consistent availability of power.
SandOaks says that virtualization brings with it numerous benefits that address all of the issues previously noted. In fact, it has become a key focus for technology enhancement for hardware and software companies. Virtual servers perform better and consume less power for processing a given level of business function than standalone servers. Industry estimates for server usage range from 7 to 20 percent on average, meaning that most IT shops have more capacity in their data centers than is required to meet business needs. Virtualized servers typically run in the 65 to 85 percent capacity range—clearly a major step forward in being efficient. Add to that the reduced cooling requirements for new technology, smaller server footprints, and improved manageability, and it's clear why Goldman Sachs forecasts that virtualization is going to hit the mainstream market in 2008 ( www.goldmansachs.com).
Computer Servers Use Lion's Share of Power
The consumption of energy by computer servers, cooling equipment, and related infrastructure doubled worldwide between 2000 and 2005, with the US accounting for roughly 40 percent of that, concludes a new study by Jonathan Koomey, project scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The report, called "Estimating Regional Power Consumption by Servers, a Technical Note," predicts that if current trends continue, energy consumption worldwide for servers and related cooling and infrastructure will grow roughly 76 percent from 2005 to 2010. Koomey said that in 2005 total electricity used to power computer servers and related infrastructure worldwide reached 123 kWh.
Together, the US, Japan, and Europe used approximately 75 percent of all server-related electricity worldwide, Koomey said ( http://enterprise.amd.com/Downloads/svrpwrusecompletefinal.pdf). He said power consumption could be reduced by roughly 20 percent if certain energy-efficient processes and technologies were developed, including the use of virtualization software, better management of hot and cold areas in data centers, and changes in corporate policies.
IT Provider Tells of Green Strategy in Construction of Data Center
Terremark Worldwide, a provider of managed IT infrastructure services, has released information on the different ways it conserved energy during construction of its Network Access Point of the Capital Region (NCR) project ( www.napoftheamericas.com).
This project, currently under construction, will speed access to information, enhance communications, and facilitate economic transactions, enabling enterprises and government to drive productivity and growth. Located 60 miles from Washington, DC, in Culpeper, Virginia, the NCR will provide managed services in addition to network security and connectivity. The campus will consist of five 50,000-square-foot independent data center structures and a 72,000-square-foot secure office building. Each structure is a bunker built to security standards for sensitive compartmented information facilities and is set back 150 feet from the campus perimeter. Inside each data center, a security staff maintains and operates sophisticated video surveillance systems, biometric scanners, and secured areas for processing of staff, customers, and visitors.
As an example of its green strategy, in designing the facility, Terremark segregated hot and cold air in the cooling system of the data center floor to work more efficiently, thus conserving the energy needed to cool the equipment.
In building the facility, Terremark employed the most energy-efficient equipment, such as vacuum fluorescent displays (VFDs) and DC motors that let the motors run at full capacity only as needed. Terremark also used a rotary uninterruptible power supply (UPS) unit that requires no cooling and consumes far less space, yielding a more energy-efficient design than static UPS systems (battery rooms and rectifiers). When combined, the use of these various energy-efficient components will help reduce the data centers' overall impact on the environment.
Terremark also used a closely coupled cooling system to deliver cold air as closely as possible to heat sources, thus maximizing its effect.
The lighting infrastructure uses energy-efficient lighting and a "free cooling" system that employs economizers and dry coolers. This takes advantage of ambient cool air and lets the facility lessen its dependency on artificially cooled air during certain times of the year.
As Terremark embarked on its hardware refresh cycle in the US at the various facilities it services (NAP of the Americas in Miami, NAP West in California, NAP de las Americas Madrid, and NAP do Brasil among them), it virtualized its testing environments using products from VMware, a company that provides virtualization software for x-86-compatible computers.
IYogi Computer Support Launches Green PC Initiative
IYogi, a computer support services company, announced the launch of its Green PC initiative. The service offers customers ways to save money, conserve energy, and protect the environment by optimizing their PCs' efficiency.
According to Energy Star, a joint program between the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, users can save up to $75 per desktop PC annually through power management.
IYogi's Green PC initiative is a customized service that increases the energy efficiency of users' computers starting with three primary undertakings:
• computer assessment (analyzing settings and PC energy use);
• customized efficiency plans geared specifically to the individual's usage patterns; and
• implementing setting changes to maximize a computer's energy use by executing more than 10 energy-saving tactics.
The service is free for iYogi's annual subscribers or can be purchased for US$9.99 as a standalone service for new customers. IYogi's Green PC Web site ( www.green-pc.iyogi.net) helps users identify ways to recycle or dispose of their hardware and provides insight into how to select new computer equipment that's environmentally friendly and energy efficient.
Gates, Jobs Named IT's Top Personalities of Past 25 Years
The cofounders of two of the world's most successful, recognizable, and innovative IT companies are the industry's most influential personalities of the past 25 years, according to a poll by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).
Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, claimed the top spot on the most influential list. Gates, who cofounded Microsoft in 1975, was named by 84 percent of the 473 IT industry professionals who participated in the Web-based poll.
Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, which he cofounded in 1976, placed second on the list. Jobs was selected by 73 percent of voters.
Placing third was Michael Dell, chairman of the board and CEO of Dell, the company he cofounded in 1984. He was named by 53 percent of voters.
Tied for fourth, at 47 percent, were Linus Torvalds, Sergey Brin, and Latty Page. As a 21-year-old computer science student at the University of Helsinki, Torvalds wrote the original code for the operating system known as Linux. Brin and Page founded Google in 1998 as Stanford University PhD students.
Rounding out the top 10 were
• John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems (44 percent);
• Larry Ellison, CEO and member of the board of directors of Oracle (36 percent);
• Vinton Cerf, widely known as one of the "fathers of the Internet" and codesigner of the TCP/IP protocols (35 percent);
• Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft (35 percent); and
• Meg Whitman, president and CEO of eBay since 1998 (30 percent).
The poll was conducted in conjunction with CompTIA's 25th anniversary. The majority of poll respondents (91 percent) have worked in the IT industry for at least three years, and two-thirds have been in the industry for five years or more. More information is available at http://www.comptia.org/pressroom/get_pr.aspx?prid=1295.
IT History Society Debuts
The IT History Society formally launched on 21 October 2007 during the History of Technology Conference in Washington, DC. The IT History Society, formerly known as the Charles Babbage Foundation, was created with the goal of "enhancing and expanding works concerning the history of information technology, and of demonstrating the value of IT history to the understanding and improvement of the world," according to the society's Web site ( www.IThistory.org).
The IT History Society will assist in the collaboration of like-minded institutions and individuals to expand the reach of historical and archival activities while communicating to the private sector the value of preserving its history and heritage for generations to come, according to its chairman of the board, Jeffrey D. Stein.
The launch resulted in more than 130 historians and activists becoming members, as well as institutions including the Center for Technology Innovation, the Charles Babbage Institute, the Computer History Museum, the IEEE History Center, the Mid-Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists, and the UK National Archive for the History of Computing.
IT Certification Council Established
Leading corporations, associations, and education and training providers in the IT industry have formed the Information Technology Certification Council (ITCC) to position professional certifications for major new growth, ensuring a qualified workforce to support the world's technology needs.
The ITCC will be a resource for employers, government officials, academia, workforce development, and individuals seeking information about the many advantages and benefits of IT certification.
Founding members of the ITCC include HP, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, and Sun; the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) and the Linux Professional Institute; test development and delivery providers Pearson VUE and Prometric; and education provider Kaplan.
The ITCC intends to confront many issues facing the IT certification industry, including exam security; perceptions versus realities of IT certification value and return on investment; and the training-to-testing ratio.
"Organizations that benefit the most from their investment in technology are the ones that understand that certified IT professionals have the job skills necessary to run IT infrastructures efficiently and reliably," says Neill Hopkins, vice president of skills development at CompTIA. "The positive impact of IT certification is measurable in many ways: greater network availability, higher worker productivity, and improved security are just a few examples. All of these factors have a positive impact on a business's financial bottom line. That's why more organizations view IT certifications as a business necessity."
The ITCC will establish and execute industry-wide marketing and drive other projects designed to better serve the IT certification industry.
Controlling IT Budget Is Top Technology Challenge for Small, Medium Businesses
Keeping budgets under control is the most pressing technology challenge facing small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) today, according to research commissioned by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).
In a survey of 724 businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees, 37 percent said their biggest IT challenge is keeping their technology budgets under control. IT budgets are the number one concern among organizations in specific vertical markets, including finance, insurance, government, retail, wholesale, and professional services.
The high cost of IT maintenance was cited as the number two concern by 26 percent of all SMBs surveyed. Maintenance cost was the number one concern among healthcare companies.
Using technology products and services to increase worker productivity ranks as the number three concern among all SMBs surveyed, at 23 percent.
Keeping current systems going for another few years ranked number four. This was cited as the top concern by 20 percent of SMBs overall, and 43 percent of manufacturing companies made it their number one issue.
Another significant challenge, identified by 15 percent of SMBs, is finding IT vendors and solution providers who understand their business enough to provide technology solutions tailored to their particular needs.
"SMBs want someone who will do more than just sell them hardware, software, and services," said John Venator, president and CEO of CompTIA. "They're going to work with the vendors and solution providers who put them in the best position to use technology to its utmost today and in the future. The IT companies that understand this are the ones who will have the most success in this growing market."
Research firm AMI-Partners estimates that IT spending by SMBs in the US will reach US $154.4 billion this year. SMBs in the UK are projected to spend US $24.5 billion on IT this year, while SMBs in Canada are expected to spend US $18.4 billion.
More information on the study is available at www.comptia.org/pressroom/get_pr.aspx?prid=1297.
Consultant Points to Need for Centralized Information Management
More than three quarters of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) operate more than one server, with the majority also operating from multiple locations, meaning their IT infrastructure is distributed geographically, says Laurie Shufeldt, vice president of strategic development for File Vision, a developer of information relationship management solutions. According to Shufeldt, SMBs with multiple locations or remote employees show the signs of a healthy, modern organization. But if the appropriate IT resources aren't in place to coordinate the free flow and immediate accessibility of information between those locations, SMBs face a critical productivity issue.
"To be fully productive, SMBs with multiple locations need to have a central information management system in place, where all data, information, and electronic versions of documents are stored and accessible from any location with an Internet connection," Shufeldt said. "It's the only way SMBs can be competitive in their respective fields in the 21st century."
SMBs without such a system in place regress from a technology-enhanced productive way of operating when they depend on manually driven processes, Shufeldt added. This includes the physical transportation of documents or inefficient communication systems like faxing and e-mail that further disperse documents and critical company information.
And, as one report finds, technology does improve employee productivity. According to a recent study by Forrester Research, 83 percent of SMBs believe application software improves the efficiency of their companies' core operations and business processes; 80 percent believe software improves worker productivity; and 75 percent believe software makes their products and services better ( www.forrester.com/Research/Document/Excerpt/0,7211,43029,00.html).