Click Here to Subscribe For FREE SMS Alerts on Disaster Awareness

Refresher Training of CERT by FOCUS

Thursday, November 6, 2008

IT's Growing 'Green' Concern

IT can play an important role in going green and can reduce the carbon footprint by over 98% on a global scale

 AS THE demand for information technology (IT) increases, the infrastructure required to support this also grows. IT is a major consumer of energy in an organisation and the power needed to support this is very high. Organisations are realising the need to conserve energy and are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint in the world.
    Driving energy efficiencies across IT infrastructure by addressing the power and cooling challenges, making the computing infrastructure more power efficient, ensuring the lowest power ratings for devices are a few of the green mandates that business houses can and have adopted.
    IT can play an important role in going green and can reduce the carbon footprint by over 98% on a global scale. It currently consumes over 2% of the world's overall energy. Enterprises can achieve this by automating, substituting and dematerialising various processes within the organisation. IT currently consumes over 2% of the world's overall energy.
    Going green provides an opportunity to save cost as well as an opportunity to be a responsible corporate citizen. IT can be used to determine where and how people work and how much they travel. This translates into the amount of energy consumed by them and also the amount of expensive resources used, such as paper and petroleum.
    Leveraging computing can drive energy conservations in many different ways. Automation is one of them that is making what is done today incrementally more efficient whether by smart power consumption, robotics or smart grids. This will considerably reduce carbon footprints. Substitution is another such power saving practice. By changing the way things are done, one can radically reduce the cost, increase the speed. It could either be video conferencing, e-commerce or a paperless office. The third such green practice that IT corporate houses could adopt is dematerialisation. In this method, one can literally eliminate atoms and turn it to bits in the process.
    To do all of this, one will have to identify and this can be done by having benchmarks and mechanisms also need to be put into place to check the power consumption. This will help reduce the global carbon footprint. Real-time monitoring of these elements will enable analysis for optimisation. This can be managed by putting proactive systems in place.
    Banking used to be entirely paper based and then it moved onto ATMs. This was one of the most important green initiatives in the sector. Now e-banking has caught on where people bank using the Internet. This has helped reduce the carbon footprint as there is no travel required and there is lesser fuel consumption for the same.
    On the manufacturing end as Moore's law continues to be taken to new heights and the number of transistors increase, they also become smaller. This increases the chances of a leakage, thus reducing the power efficiency of the transistor. The transistor should have minimal halogen atoms and lead to make it more eco-friendly.
    Three years ago, the annual energy consumption of a desktop was high as IT managers needed the systems to be on day and night. As desktops transformed from CRT displays to LCD, the power consumption reduced from 1015 KWh per year to 938 KWh per year. When the dual core processor was introduced the power consumption saw a significant drop to 215 KWh per year. Over a short period of 7 years, the energy platform ahs dropped by 17 times and resulted in dramatic cost savings.
    With the move o energy efficient technologies, multi-core platforms and the continuing and relentless pursuit of Moore's Law, the data centre has been transformed remarkably.
    From 2006 to 2008, data centers across the world uses 57% less floor space and the annual energy costs have reduced b 64%. This has translated into $57,000 savings on the energy savings front and has exceeded the server acquisition cost too in the past three years. However, the delivery and performance of these data centers has not been affected in any way. They continue to deliver the same, if not greater level of performance. There are significant gains in delivering energy efficient performance.

    Dr Sunil Sherlekar CEO Tata CRL cited the example of how a 42,000 square foot system has been designed in such a way that it consumes only 2.5 MW of power. With the help of similar technology efficient automobiles, power generators, wind turbines can be designed which reduce the total energy consumption.
    In 2000, the total energy consumed by data centers in the US was 30 billion KWh per year, which was about 0.8% of total electricity consumed in the US. In 2006, they used 80 billion KWh per year. By 2011, the projected energy consumption by data centers is a little over 120 billion KWh that is 2.9% of the projected power consumption by US.
    "For the IT industry it is a 2% opportunity as they currently consume so much energy worldwide. However, there is a 98% opportunity as one can use computing to improve energy savings outside information and communications technology." said Patrick P. Gelsinger Sr. VP,
GM (digital enterprise group) Intel Corporation
    There are various reasons why businesses are following green IT practices. Some do it as it is a compliance issue and clients ask for it. Most do it as it is a great cost savings effort or think it is fashionable to do so. While some also put it as enforcing such mechanisms is a good public relations exercise.
    Mahesh Khera, CMO (corporate strategy and business excellence) Reliance Communications said that, "Aim of every service provider is to operate cost-efficiently. Reduction of power consumption automatically reduces the carbon footprint in the environment." Thus power reduction is directly linked to a company's reduction in operating costs without it compromising on quality.
    According to a study conducted by Intel, around 90% of computers in the corporate world have power-management mechanisms. However of this 90%, hardly 70% have switched to the option thanks to various reasons like complexity of turning it on among others. The same amount of energy could have been used to run multiple coal plants offline. Hence installing power-saving hardware platforms by companies is just a beginning in what can be perceived as a long-term process. Intel is committed to climate saving computing, a new environmental effort, which has set aggressive, targets for energy-efficient computers and promoting power management tool worldwide.
    In many companies the average age of employees makes it easier or difficult, as the case may be, to adopt green IT practices. For instance the average age of a TCS employee is 28 years and every one of them at an individual level is concerned about the environment.
    Ananth Krishnan vice-president and CTO, TCS admitted that convincing everyone in the office to shut their computers when they are not being used is a difficult task. However, TCS has it's own social computing initiative and suggestions like shutting PC's when not in use has come from the company's own staff. Adopting environmental-friendly technology is a mantra across all the Tata Group of companies. Hence, to a certain extent implementation of such practices depends on the company's culture.

    But for State Bank of India (SBI) things are different as the average age of an employee is around 50 years. In comparison to a 28+ TCS employee who is a 'digital native', the concept is more challenging for SBI employees who are 'digital migrants.' There are big differences between people who are born with the technology and people who have learnt to use the technology.
    B. R. Nath CIO of SBI felt that with proper knowledge about power savings, power consumption in firms

could easily be reduced up to 10%. For instance, a small notice like, "Have you switched off your computer monitor?" would always make the employee realise his responsibility towards energy consumption.
    Mr Krishnan further added that, the question to be asked is: "How to harness all the innovative and creative suggestions on energy efficiency? And how do we make it into meaningful initiatives?" Companies which have been adopting these practices from a long time, are today in a position to sell this concept to a business unit. After tackling the initial hiccups, these companies are advising clients on efficient management of power consumption.
    Technology always has a helping hand to play in the implementation of such practices. For instance modern-day machines can be timed to go to sleep at a particular time even if it is not in use. Going green
should make economic sense to a company. However, most of these products are either highly priced or sometimes not available in particular geographical locations according to Sudipto Majumdar, CTO Zapak & COO Kyphy.
    Many companies have successfully adopted green IT practices and managed to increase their operational efficiencies. Mr. Gelsinger cited one such example of an American firm that used eco-friendly applications to track the delivery and routing of its trucks. The application resulted in the firm recording a 10-15% jump in its operational efficiency and directly resulting in carbon footprint savings. There are many such examples across the world backed by solid data.
    Data centers across the globe have been nicknamed as heat and power-guzzling 'monsters.' However, Mr Sherlekar said that the solution to the problem lies in changing the design and operational elements of a data center. Hence, while designing a data centre its cooling system can be conceived in a specific manner or the centre can be set up in a cooler ambience. On the operational side, if some of the servers in a firm are not being used they can be shut down to save power. Or a job can be equally split across two servers, thus reducing the load on a single server. However, implementing such practices are quite challenging as one has to write the software in a particular way, observed Mr Sherlekar.
    Echoing similar sentiments, Mr. Khera said that need of the hour is infrastructure that can function according to different configuration needs on a day-today basis especially for the telecom industry. "An average lifecycle of a server is 5 years, but if it used for 8-8.5 hours in a day its lifespan can easily extend to another year.," he said.
    In the process of adopting green IT practices there is always a risk of companies overcomputing themselves. Commenting on the same Mr Majumdar said that, "CTO's are always under pressure to never let services down. A lot of upgrades happen on PCs some of which are vendor-led or fashion-led." However, companies should concentrate more on going 'green' and cutting costs.
    The government also has to play a very important and pivotal role in promoting green IT practices. According to Mr. Krishnan, "It would certainly help if the government came out with some kind of regulatory framework or standard. Many governments are now considering environment as a serious issue."
    To expand their carbon footprints many companies are now providing their annual report online. Companies should identify a positive risk reward behaviour, which would help future business decisions. A manager might adopt an environment-friendly process successfully with full expectations of incentives from the government. Incentives could be financial in nature or others like tax breaks and carbon credits. Firms should be instilled with 'fears' over violation of environmental norms and at the same time they should have the 'greed' to earn incentives for good green practices.
    Companies should voluntarily measure and manage their commitment to the environment. Commitments can be in the form of measuring the current amount of power the firm is consuming or what kind of greenhouse gas emissions it would be responsible for. While electricity bills might be a good measure of power consumption, at a core level they are not enough for deciding on business processes.
    Practices like managing airflow, deployment of next generation technologies in the best manner. Adopting applications of power in servers and being able to balance virtualisation. Across the range of adopting these practices across data centers, IT will not only be able to flatten, but also decrease the amount of energy despite increasing number of servers going into data centers of the future. If even 2% of the companies are convinced to opt for green IT practices following the footsteps of firms like SBI, TCS among others, a huge change can be expected from the rest 98%.

From Left : Mahesh Khera (Reliance Communications), Sunil Sherlekar (Tata CRL), Patrick P. Gelsinger (Intel Corporation), K. Ananth Krishnan ( TCS), Sudipto Majumdar (Zapak), B.R. Nath (State Bank of India)


Popular Posts

Slide Presentation


Enter a Youtube URL to download:

Powered by KeepHD.com
Custom Search

Daily Green News


blogger templates | Make Money Online