Sunday, April 17, 2011

Go Green - Green IT initiative with Virtualization

In the IT industry it is a common knowledge that the Data Centers are a significant consumer of power in the world today. At most of the IT offices more than half the power consumed is at the data center. The data center is critical for the business, but they also energy inefficient, using only 30% for computation, the rest 70% of the electricity lost due to inefficiencies of power and heat dissipation and associated power cooling equipment.

As a result, there is a huge opportunity to reduce power consumption in the data center, but that is not so easy. The business needs is driving up the computing demands, the power consumption by servers is increasing as manufacturers are packing more CPUs per blades, and with smaller blades - more blades into a rack. As a result the power density of a rack has increased 800% in the last decade. The individual tower servers that was popular in year 2000, has now been replaced with 1U blades which can pack 60 blades per rack.

This rapid increase in power density implies higher energy usage to power these racks and that also means more power is needed to cool these racks. In fact about 50% of the power consumed in a data center is used for cooling only, about 10% of power is used for lighting systems and power converters, so means that only about 40% of the power is actually used by the computing devices (servers, network, & storage). Even within the servers, power is consumed by the cooling fans and power supplies - thus only a small fraction of power is really used for actual computing.

In the new green era, people have started to worry about the power usage, the mounting electricity bill and the growing concern about the carbon footprint & the corporate social responsibility initiatives. As a result, companies are looking at several new initiatives to reduce power consumption - such as virtualization & cloud computing.

Virtualization & Cloud computing initiatives can save power consumption by optimizing server utilization. Virtualization allows for server optimization by eliminating old & inefficient servers, increasing the server utilization to 95% and above. This when coupled with higher energy efficiency of newer blade servers and reduced cooling requirements can result in a power saving of 70-80% - for the same workload.

At one data center, the monthly electricity power bill dropped from ~14 Lakhs to 4 Lakhs per month. This saving in power bill alone gave an ROI of 21% on the virtualization project.

VMware vSphere 4.0 has become the preferred platform for data center virtualization, and with vSphere 4.0, x86 based blade servers & Nexus switches it is possible to create a 100% virtualized data centers, where all the work loads are running on virtual machines. A single quad core blade server can support 30-40 virtual machines, thus deliver a flexible, dynamic environment with many additional operational efficiencies, including business continuity, rapid provisioning, automation, and standardized operating procedures.

With increasing oil & energy prices and shareholders demand to lower operating costs, and the public demand to lower energy consumption - Virtualization is no longer an option. It is an absolute necessary. There is a true "green" benefit in setting up a virtual data center - that goes beyond reducing power consumption & reducing the carbon footprint. The other benefits are:

  • Increase application uptime
  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Improve quality of service
  • Faster response time to customer requirements
  • Reduce infrastructure management overheads
  • Better compliance standards

Closing Thoughts

Virtualization of the data center is just the first step towards a "Green" IT, this can be followed up with several other steps to reduce the carbon footprint. Desktop virtualization, Data Deduplication for Backup & disaster recovery, SQL consolidation, VoIP & integrated media gateways, TelePresence infrastructure etc., can give big dividends in both cost reduction and lowering of carbon foot prints.

1 comment:

Saras said...

Good article.