As a one time naturalist, it's been interesting for me to watch the evolution of energy usage and its increased price last few years; particularly in an IT context. Energy as part of an IT budget is a bit of a misnomer. Did you know that less than one in four IT departments pay for their energy? Or, that fewer than one in five enterprises have done a detailed energy audit?
Let’ review some alarming energy IT growth numbers. For instance, did you know that over the last decade energy costs have doubled in the last five years and may again in less than the next three? Or that servers have grown six fold, power and cooling eightfold, storage sixtyfold, and the administrative costs for these systems have grown an average of four fold?
I've also seen references that suggest that there's low hanging fruit here with the proper management attention. One figure quoted from the EPA suggested that many enterprises could save in the range of 25 to 55% . Some of the numbers I've seen from IBM Project Green analyses suggest this could be as high as 80%.
These are huge numbers; especially when you add in server utilization rates. Excepting System z (Shameless plug: designed to run to 100%, deal with different kinds of workload, etc), many of these servers are at really low utilizations; like less than 10% for wintel servers, and in the 10-20% ranges for Unix servers. While part of the problem can be technical limitations of scale, from an organizational perspective many of these servers are limited by setup to not achieve optimum resource utilization since they are dedicated to limited workloads and managed by single departments or lines of business.
So, there are clearly some reasons to focus in this area, and clearly some benefits to be had. It's also pretty clear that if we don't address this issue there could be roadblocks to IT and enterprise progress. Remember, even if you're willing to pay the price, there are areas where there simply is no additional power capable of coming off the grid!
As a tech guy, it's tempting to talk about some of the new enterprise data center capabilities, the neat new ice battery, and all of the virtualization, consolidation, optimization capabilities we have to contribute in this area. However, this is another problem that’s going to take both business and IT to solve and continue growing and contributing. It is going to take the governance stick, to remind everyone what goals are, to cooperate and play nice, and solve a problem with the greater good in mind. It's going to take executive attention, sponsorship, and support.
For those of us in the tech community, let’s be ready with our enterprise and architectural perspective when the call comes from on high and get green! (For fun see green data center man!)[Read More]