IBM Offers ‘Five Golden’ Rules For Green IT

Companies are missing a trick by not realising how much energy is being used by dormant office equipment, says IBM’s Richard Lanyon-Hogg

Many companies are blissfully unaware of the power consumption of background equipment and infrastructure within the office.

So warns IBM which has published a whitepaper about the cost of wasted energy use by IT equipment. Indeed, IBM’s studies into this subject revealed that 42  percent of IT and office equipment energy consumption is wasted. And this is not a trival issue, as electricity is likely to be the second highest cost after labour, for any business.

Despite this, organisations tend to waste money every time a computer is switched on or the IT systems come online. And with the global economy not yet out of the woods, IBM has warned that it is now time to stop the waste.

Measuring Consumption

The company has even developed a blueprint on how organisations can change their energy consumption. eWEEK Europe talked to IBM to get their top five golden rules for businesses seeking to get a handle on their energy consumption.

“Five years ago, there was no real way for an IT manager to measure the carbon footprint of their IT systems,” explained Richard Lanyon-Hogg, UK CTO for IT Energy Efficiency at IBM. “Indeed, there was no way to measure this, not just in the data centre, but across the whole IT environment, including all the ICT, the power packs, photocopiers etc.

“And as time went on, it became easier to determine, what is the energy consumption or carbon footprint for my system? And now it seems to focus on how can I determine which IT equipment has best energy ratings,” Lanyon-Hogg told eWEEK Europe.

The Network Culprit

“When we (IBM) began to go out and measure clients infrastructure to look at their electricity consumption, we found that 40 percent of power costs are driving ICT equipment,” he said.

“We broke down where that power is going, and we found to our surprise that the communications network was a huge consumer of power,” he added. “This was a consistent finding in our survey across the world, including countries such as New Zealand, Canada, Australia etc.

“The traditional assumption had been that the bulk of energy consumption was the data centre, but that is often not the case, as we found that 60 percent of power consumption was taking place outside the data centre.”

And Lanyon-Hogg warned that many companies are still unaware of how much electricity they are actually wasting. “When we talked about the waste of power, we found for every one pound spent on driving ICT equipment, 32 pence is wasted.”

Five Golden Rules

Lanyon-Hogg also pointed out that one of the common problems is that companies have designed their systems and infrastructure with resilience and capacity in mind, not efficient utilisation.

“When we looked at many organisations networks, we found these were only carrying user data for approximately 55 hours per week,” he said.

“The network effectively acts a solid state device that uses the same power whether it is fully utilised or partly utilised. It is consuming terrific amounts of power, but for half the week it is not carrying any usable user data,” he added.

Lanyon-Hogg said that IBM has worked out five practical steps that companies should take to cut down on their energy consumption:

1. Equipment Audit

First off, companies should know how much stuff (ICT equipment) they have actually got.

“This is not just about the equipment in the server rooms but also out in the office space,” said Lanyon-Hogg. “A lot of equipment is powered up but is usually not delivering services, and some old equipment has not been properly decommissioned. Companies should look at profile of their assets, as there are a lot of inefficiencies that can be driven out.”

“Printer and desktop rationalisation is good, but much more can be done,” he said “We are still seeing companies struggling to know what they have in terms of equipment, and part of the reason for that is that many IT department do not pay the electricity bill. This is often paid by facilities or the building management team. I have seen people terrified of pulling out cables under a desk because they don’t know what it is running.”

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