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Three best practices for a greener data centre

01 Sep 2008

Ed’s note: Greening of the data centre is a hot topic that just won’t die. In our last issue, we heard from SpectrumData’s Guy C. Holmes who gave us his top ten tips for ‘greening’. This month, Rob Willis of Citrix gets concise and gives us his pointers in just three steps.

Few information technology directions have been as brightly positioned in the spotlight as sustainability, or ‘green IT’ – and for good reason: unlike the latest advances in performance or programming methodology, resource utilisation and environmental impact goes beyond the walls of the data centre and affects everyone, not just technologists.

As optimal utilisation becomes more and more a matter of long term survival, the technologies that make it possible in the long run to save our planet also can help bring financial savings today.

Resellers can help New Zealand organisations follow technology approaches that can make it more efficient and cost effective to deliver the applications their users and operations require.

1.    Deliver – don’t install – applications

When applications and operating systems are installed at every desktop and on every server, there are obvious costs to the environment. Disk storage is one of the most power-hungry components of the IT infrastructure; both to operate and to cool. (For every dollar spent to keep a computing resource running, the utility industry estimates another 80 cents is spent to cool it.) If applications are stored in the data centre and delivered over the network to the desktop, reductions in storage cost also yield dramatic savings in power and cooling cost.  These savings apply not only to typical desktop productivity applications, but also to the user interface and client-side intelligence for enterprise applications.

2.    As go the applications, so goes the operating system

The same economies of scale and management achieved by the application can be achieved by the operating system. The network-based dynamic provisioning capabilities of new products on the market make it possible to maintain a small number of operating system ‘golden images’ – for some organisations, as little as a single instance – and deliver it to knowledge workers’ desktops. In addition to the storage savings (which translate to power, cooling, and real estate sustainability gains), the simplification of the software platform means less maintenance, less patching – and greatly reduced requirements for the fuel needed to get IT staff to support desktops in the field. 

3.    More dynamic means more sustainable

Data centre costs are driven by the servers and storage that support the backbone of business processes. When data centre resources can be automatically directed to the high-value business activities that require them, resources can be used more effectively, and a business can do much more with much less. While server virtualisation can drive the consolidation and flexibility that businesses require, fewer than 10 % of servers are currently used as virtualised platforms. To drive dynamic resource utilisation and reduce overprovisioning, dynamic management must be applied to both physical and virtual resources. Organisations should look to platforms supporting both virtual and physical resources — making 100% of the data centre a dynamic, cost effective driver of efficiency and sustainability.

By taking advantage of these principles of efficiency, investment in the future of the IT infrastructure and the business can also be an investment in the future of the planet.   

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