The Greening of IT: How Companies Can Make a Difference for the Environment (IBM Press)


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I'm responding to this question on April 2, , from Johannesburg, South Africa. In addition to news on the Q20, the morning paper in Johannesburg has articles on the electricity costs for South Africa using alternative technology for generation such as wind, hydro, landfill-gas, and solar being mandated by the government. Also, the company I'm working with in Johannesburg has been told by the local power company that they cannot add any more servers to their data center since the power currently being supplied is at a maximum.

Green IT is important worldwide from several fronts, including energy cost, environmental aspects, and power company limits on power available to data centers.

This problem is not limited to the U. Energy efficiency is a global issue — both now and in the future. Many clients in growth markets such as China and India are looking at how to grow their use of IT and do so in an energy efficient manner — often with government support to save energy. Here's a short history on my motivation: I was the working as the enterprise architect on a customer project, and one of my customer contacts had seen a news article on IBM working with Bryant University on a modular design for a green data center.

The customer asked me how IBM could help them with green data centers. Based on working with that customer on getting started on their green data center, I submitted a conference abstract for a paper on green IT, and that led to the book proposal. You reference a five-step continuous improvement process in your book. Can you tell us about that? There is nothing magic about just having five steps in your process. Improving energy management is an ongoing endeavor. The five-step process helps provide an ongoing pattern for end to end energy management.

It starts with taking initial measurements to understand your particular situation, making continuous changes to both facilities and IT environments, and then determining the affect of those changes with an ongoing energy management monitoring and measurement system.

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Improving energy efficiency requires focusing on a number of areas: The five-step process was a way to show a set of actions across all these areas to focus on continual improvement. Over time, as the focus on Green IT expands outside of the data center, it becomes a good way to approach an area with many pieces.

The first step is to "get the facts" and diagnose where your energy is being used. For an existing environment you can then virtualize the IT equipment, purchase new energy efficient products to cool, and measure and manage the energy usage. When you have the chance to build something new, you can do additional actions to design with energy efficiency in mind.

Not only is the topic broad, but during the writing of this book, every day I would come across new information that I'd think should be in the book. Also, many energy standards and metrics are still in the development stage. Of course with all the research going into energy efficiency, we should expect continuous improvement not only in technology but in the government and industry standards and metrics used in determining the goals for green data centers and green IT in general.

The largest challenge was summarizing all that is going on in this space. Energy management is being incorporated in everything from the hardware component level computer chip, memory, and power supply design to the server level power capping to the data center level interaction of the facilities and IT management systems. That is why the case studies are so important, as they show the affects of injecting multiple technologies into the environment simultaneously. The biggest challenge is that the market is moving so fast.

In the first 6 months of working on the book, the market moved from a focus of educating clients on what green IT was about, but then shifted to talking about how to get started. Before long clients wanted to implement and wanted case studies with benefits to show how they could achieve similar benefits.

Green IT: The Key to Energy Efficiency | Why is Green IT Important? | InformIT

The number of product and service capabilities available in the market has growth, making it more challenging to talk about what is available and how to achieve the cost and energy savings. Green IT started in the data center and now includes supply chains, water management, and corporate sustainability.

How much of this is "green washing," or just marketing hype that companies are being environmentally friendly? For data centers the cost saving incentives are so great that there would usually be little need for an organization to exaggerate how environmentally friendly they are.

The Greening of IT: How Companies Can Make a Difference for the Environment

While there is some of that going on in the industry, companies as motivated by the economic benefits they have seen. As green took off, there was some green washing, but the market was brutal on any claims made by vendors which didn't generate true energy savings or demonstrate quantifiable results. Do I have to build a new data center to take advantage of these savings, or can they be incorporated into my existing data centers?

Often basic data center equipment, such as the UPS Uninterrupted Power Supply used for backup in case of a power outage, is replaced after many years as part of a company's plan to improve data center reliability. There is usually no need to build a brand new data center in order to gain significant energy efficiency improvements. There are new data center designs for making computer rooms more efficient. For example - Energy engineers would appreciate Appendix C in which various methods of power generation are presented.

IT professionals would read with great interest Appendix D where projection on worldwide costs for IT is presented. Electricity usage in global data centers is also explained in the same appendix. I'd highly recommend this book by Dr. Lamb, to all speakers, writers as well researchers in the domain. Great book with real world case studies to reinforce the importance of the "Greening of IT". It was easy to compare the thinking of current IT infrastructure to where IT infrastructure needs to go as there were plenty of tables or web links to illustrate the efficiencies gained using a greener approach.

The main drawback to using external links is that they may not be available by the time the book is published. A website with updates would be a good idea - the free online edition is only a 45 day trial. Some of the newer technologies made it into the book, but I did not see some of the others - for example Flywheel UPS although flywheels have been around a long time. Fuel Cell backup power did rate a mention as an emerging technology. Some more discussion on Computer Room efficiencies and the maximum limits of under floor cooling to handle the newer high density racks based on air flow limits would have been a good addition.

This is certainly not a negative because there is only so much that you can cover in a general book. A few illustrations were a little too small or did not have enough contrast for easy viewing in a black and white publication example Fig.

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The first step is to "get the facts" and diagnose where your energy is being used. Setting up an organization within your company to drive the effort would be another early step. Almost every industry organization and many government bodies are involved. Green IT started in the data center and now includes supply chains, water management, and corporate sustainability. There are many innovations that we can apply to designing a new data center to make them more energy efficient.

I am assuming the choice of black and white was driven by the desire for a Kindle version, as well as the extra printing costs needed for color. As mentioned a lot of external links to extra information were provided, and overall a great snapshot of the current thinking related to the Greening of IT.

2018 WIU Distinguished Faculty Lecturer: Dr. Rajeev Sawhney

Naturally with the author being an IBM person there was good coverage of IBM technologies - but there was more than enough coverage of non-IBM solutions so this was not a problem. I recommend this book for both the technical and non-technical reader as the material worked at both levels.

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Green IT: The Key to Energy Efficiency

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