Thursday, June 21, 2007

IBM Goes Green With Energy Saving Project in 2007

Big Blue has another nickname: "Big Green." In a presentation earlier this year, IBM unveiled its "Project Big Green," a $1-billion-a-year effort to make data centers worldwide more energy-efficient, cost-effective and greener overall.

The company also announced, as part of this plan, that it would use the latest hardware, software and services to double the computing capacity of its data centers worldwide by 2010, without increasing its power consumption.

The project comes as individuals, governments are businesses alike are increasingly concerned about climate change, and seeking to implement new strategies to stem the worst of its effects. Energy use, as a major generator of greenhouse gases worldwide, is an important place to focus efforts, and IBM today said it was putting the entire weight of its company behind this project.

"There are times when we need to mobilize the entire company, as we did with the internet, with e-commerce, and others," said Mike Daniels, IBM's senior vice president of Global Technology Services. "We think this is one of those times, and we have reallocated $1b around these initiatives."

The company's strategy is to offer a "road map" to green data centers. There are five steps to the program: Diagnose, Build, Virtualize, Manage and Cool, and IBM today outlined each of those in its presentation.

The first step in reaching energy efficiency is to know where a company is starting from. To that end, IBM has developed a tool and set metrics by which companies can measure their power consumption across their IT operations. IBM will also assess clients' energy efficiency to determine the most important first steps to take.

As part of the Build aspect of the plan, IBM has created Mobile Measurement Technology to provide a three-dimensional map of temperatures in data centers, again with the goal of showing what areas need the most urgent attention. When Pacific Gas & Electric, the utility company, implemented MMT at three data centers in Northern California, it accurately visualized hot spots, air leakage and other inefficiencies across their 40,000 square feet of data center space in a few days, as opposed to a few weeks if they had been surveyed by hand.

IBM also unveiled a tool that provides a virtual representation of energy needs in data centers. One of IBM's chief engineers, Donna Dillenberger, showed the program off at the presentation, and said that it can be used to help plot when your data centers will have the highest energy demand and how making small tweaks to performance can increase or decrease energy needs. This can give companies the ability to accurately forecast their power needs.

Virtualizing IT infrastructure can allow companies to dramatically cut down on both their hardware and energy needs. Companies using IBM's mainframe or its new BladeCenter server, can use nearly 100 percent of a server's capacity, and cut down power use by as much as 50 percent.

IBM is encouraging companies to take advantage of power management software as an easy way to drop electricity usage. IBM estimated that if all the country's data centers simply set their servers to go to sleep when they're not in use, the country could save 5.4 billion kilowatt hours per year, enough electricity to heat 370,000 homes for a winter.

Finally, the fifth stage of IBM's road map involves cooling world's data centers. One new service the company has created, the IBM Data Center Stored Cooling Solution, was put in use in a data center in Quebec, which was able to save 45 percent of its cooling costs.

The company will also promote its Rear Door Heat eXchanger, product, which use chilled water to dissipate systems' heat by as much as 60 percent.

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