Green IT and Energy Costs for Business
Green IT Costs
Most companies choose green, environmentally friendly business options because it is the right thing to do. But many make the choice to go green because it can lead to cost savings.
Green IT in High Demand
Green IT is seeing large demand growth in recent years. Everything from green web hosting, data centers, VOIP telephone systems, to PCs and printers is leaning toward eco-friendly green business options.
Green Data Centers
The number of green data centers that house web servers around the country are increasing at a strong rate. Web hosting providers, software companies, large corporations, and collocation facilities are offering vital eco-friendly services to their customers in an effort to keep up with the strong demand.
Large companies that have the resources needed to build their own data center are opting for eco-friendly “green” data centers. Yahoo, for example, recently built a new green data center that was completed in September 2010 and located on the East coast near Lockport, New York. The massive structure comprises three data center halls attached to a main operation center. The radical design is seen as helping to reduce its energy expenses by 40%. The design allows temperature and airflow inside to be closely controlled. Moreover, the complex will be primarily run by hydroelectric power, which is a renewable source of energy, available in the local utility, New York Power Authority.
5 Ways Businesses Can Save on IT Costs
Competitive pricing industry wide requires that businesses find smart and creative ways to keep IT costs low. Here are five tips that can help:
1. Environmentally Friendly Eco-Pods
Environmentally Friendly Eco-Pods allow companies to go green without a large infusion of cash needed to construct a new, green data center. Many companies that need to expand their data center capacities (without spending large amounts of capital into the constructions of a new data center) are moving toward green. HP recently launched its new “Eco-Pod”. As more web hosting companies scramble to become "green", the HP Eco-Pod will become more popular. The HP POD can be deployed within weeks instead of requiring months or even years to design. Aging data centers are forced to build new space, with high costs and long lead times. The HP POD is typically 20-40% more energy efficient than a typical data center, reducing energy cost and greenhouse gas emissions.
2. Turn off idle computers at nights and over weekends.
A computer that is not in use and idling wastes money. This is when PCs and monitors are drawing energy but no useful work is being performed, such as nights, weekends, holidays, and workday breaks. The savings from PC power management, or powering down PCs (e.g. off, standby, hibernate) when they are idle, ads up. Some companies save $25-50 per year per PC just by turning off PCs that otherwise would be idling. There are tools that companies can use to automate this process, as well. 1E's PC power management software can be utilized to turn off PCs at night. AT&T expects to save $12 million ($38 per PC per year) and 123,000 tons of carbon emissions per year by utilizing this technology and save electricity on idling PCs.
For those that demand resources that allow them to take charge of their PCs’ electricity usage and not rely on users, IT administrators can utilize software to power down PCs when they are not in use. Established vendors like Microsoft, Symantec/Altiris, and IBM offer PC power management as part of their desktop management and security software.
3. Enable double-sided printing.
The associated costs of printing, which includes equipment, ink, copying, printing, disposal, recycling, faxing, postage, and storage, has been estimated to be as high as 32 times the cost of the paper alone. This means that for every $1 a company spends on paper there is $32 expense of additional printing-related tasks. By cutting the paper printed in a office in half, a company can add up to significant savings. For example, Citigroup expects to save $11,800,000 per year by doing just this.
4. Consolidate server environment.
By virtualizing servers, companies can reduce energy costs. Virtualization of servers is an increasingly attractive option because the costs to power and cool a server over its life can possibly exceed its original purchase price.
Servers consume 40% of total data center energy consumption, but 30% of this is wasted by "idle servers" — servers consuming energy but performing no useful work. Considering these statistics, virtualization of a company’s servers can help decommission and consolidate server environment. By implementing virtual environments, energy consumption can be reduced to 60% of its previous usage.
Forrester Research recommends three process improvements:
1) Increase overall virtualization footprint;
2) Increase virtual machine (VM)-to-physical host and server utilization ratios; and
3) Procure servers and architectures that are more energy-efficient.
5. Turn up the temperature in the data center.
Cooling and air conditioning sometimes consumes 40%-60% of a data center's total energy allowance. And at times, data centers are sometimes too cold with the temperature set to around 65 degrees, although IT hardware is capable of running at 80 degrees or more according to ASHRAE standards (ASHRAE develops standards for both its members and others professionally concerned with refrigeration processes and the design and maintenance of indoor environments). To cut down on unnecessary energy consumption, turn up the thermostat. There are many examples of companies that have used this strategy to reduce their energy consumption. KPMG, for example, made a policy change to increase the temperature in their data center to from 69°F to 74°F degrees which reduced energy consumption by 12.7%.
Green IT in high demand among IT buyers
The biggest reason for purchasing green IT is to cut costs, rather than to be a good environmental custodian -- yet many companies are still struggling to find an ROI from embracing green IT. Although both awareness of and demand for green IT products are high, economic hardships have prevented many companies from fully embracing green technologies and green IT. This is in part to the fact that many companies fail to see the cost-savings available by fully embracing green IT.
The demand for green IT has continued to climb. Among the companies that have yet to adopt green technologies, many report that they are planning eco-friendly initiatives in the near future. As high as 36% of companies are planning to embrace energy-saving green technologies in their data centers and IT solutions and 10 percent aim to adopt green initiatives after 2011.