Thursday, September 25, 2008

Make your IT department greener - Virtualization

One of the areas often overlooked as a business moves toward a greener business model is the IT department and its functions. But computer equipment and servers can eat up a large portion of your energy budget.

Here is the first in a series of posts offering ways to take your company's technology into a greener world, without sacrificing data processing power or storage.

Invest in Virtualization Technology

Servers and other computer hardware can be power hogs, but most businesses are utilizing only a small percentage of their sever capacity at any given time -- some experts estimate as little as 10-15%. That means that one physical machine has the capacity to run multiple programs, and indeed even multiple operating systems simultaneously. Less machines means less energy usage -- good for the earth and your bottom line!

So what is virtualization?

Today’s powerful x86 computer hardware was originally designed to run only a single operating system and a single application, but virtualization breaks that bond, making it possible to run multiple operating systems and multiple applications on the same computer at the same time, increasing the utilization and flexibility of hardware.

Virtualization is a technology that can benefit anyone who uses a computer, from IT professionals and Mac enthusiasts to commercial businesses and government organizations
-- from vmware, the pioneers in VT

Virtualization really saves energy -- and money.

A recent article in Baseline described the savings PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric Company) realized when they replaced their high energy use systems with a virtualization model. The move allowed them to reduce their total servers from nearly 300 to about 30. That slashed overall energy use, even with an increased need for chillers to maintain server room temps around the clock.

And even with the cost of retrofitting and adaptation of space and equipment to use the new programs, the company estimated a payback of only 1-2 years, with an ROI of almost 30%.

Another plus? Less server and computer floor space means less real estate is needed for data and IT functions. That saves on overhead, including rent or mortgage, maintenance, lighting and other utilities.

Finding a virtualization program for your business

There are a variety of virtualization programs available, including several open source versions. Microsoft, vmware, and others offer adaptable VT software for use on a wide variety of operating systems. While all VT systems work on the same principle, you should talk to several companies to find the version right for your business needs.