How Virtualization Reduces Greenhouse-Gas Emissions

IBM reminds us that all businesses need to be concerned with sustainability. A major part of this is the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions.

ENERGY STAR, a joint program of the Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describes server virtualization as a leading strategy for maintaining data center efficiency. Savings of 10% to 40% can be achieved. With sever virtualization the number of servers in use can be reduced. Some existing servers can be retired while the purchase of new servers can be put off. Server consolidation can reduce the cooling load and expand uptime. Decrease in servers means decrease in connections, reducing IT maintenance and configuration costs.

Scalability and faster deployments can be achieved with virtualization. Moving systems from one virtual server to another can be accomplished in seconds. Workloads can also be optimized. BC Hydro and VM Ware both calculated a 2 year payback time on IT energy savings based on an investment in their virtualization products.

IBM has led by example with its management of the corporate environmental footprint. The company has been measuring and reporting its environmental impact for the past 20 years. They have saved 5.4 million kWh of electricity while cutting $400 million. In 2012 the European Union recognized IBM for their energy efficiency. IBM’s goal is to double IT capacity over the next three years while maintaining current levels of power use. Environmental sensors and analytics assist in regulating temperature and minimizing power consumption.

At the University of Delaware’s central virtualization services money and energy are saved throughout the year. One virtual host can run a variety of mixed use Windows and Linux servers. A virtual server managed by IT support can be leased for about $500 a year while the cost of buying a new server is in the range of $2,500. Fewer physical computers means reduced electrical consumption, less space used and reduced air conditioning and construction requirements.

A University of DE representative said that as applications migrate from physical servers to virtualized servers, reduction in expenses is anticipated. The current cycle of purchasing new servers every 4 or 5 years will be broken and space and energy requirements for numerous physical systems will be eliminated. As a bonus, IT’s virtual servers will be faster than the physical servers they replace.

At University of Deleware the virtualization service is designed for flexibility. Departments have no up-front charges and can adjust their month-to-month service as requirements change. The IT Support Center at U DE encourages other departments not yet participating to request virtual machines in order to save money, enhance flexibility and reduce energy consumption.

At Penn State the 2009 Big Fix Computer Power Management Project sought to enhance environmental stewardship while guarding against electric deregulation and budget cuts. As part of the effort the number of physical servers was reduced from 77 to 11, and 123 virtual servers were supported by 18 physical devices. The result was a reduction of 65% in electrical costs at the data center both for servers and cooling. Overall $40,000 a year for servers was saved while CO2 emissions of 420 tons were eliminated.

The University of DE, Penn State and IBM have all used virtualization effectively to reduce costs while at the same time reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by cutting electrical consumption of energy generated by fossil fuels.

Original author: Linda

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