With the weather changing, flash floods and increasing temperatures, the hottest topic (literally) everywhere these days is a person’s carbon footprint and how to reduce it. You could buy up wasteland, plant tree after tree or sell your car and buy a bike, but what can been done that benefits you, your IT equipment and your business?
Let’s face it — the paperless office, combined with data centers around the world, are consuming a lot of electricity, thus increasing your carbon footprint. You can change electric providers to those that use sustainable energy resources such as wind farms, waterfalls (hydro plants), solar power, etc. But because power companies are just now turning to these resources, it might take a while for it to become mainstream, as well as reasonably priced.
Your current IT systems offer an alternative now to reduce your carbon footprint.
In your rolling upgrade/replacement program, forget about those bulky but reliable cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors — thin film transistor (TFT) monitors are a clear winner because they were originally designed for the laptop. Also, remember to try to choose Energy Star-awarded products. This designation shows those products exceed energy efficiency standards to offer lower power consumption and a lower electric bill.
Every three years or so, companies tend to replace their server. The majority of the time, this is due to increased workload, coupled with the fact that a lot of servers are sold with a warranty of up to only three years.
If a server goes down, and its warranty has expired, the company loses money every minute the server is down. With this in mind, look for the new generation of servers. Things to look for in an energy-efficient server include:
- Quad-Core low-voltage processors from Intel (the two models now offered are the L5320 and L5310). The new range of CPU actually uses less power, which reduces the power requirement by 35 percent to 60 percent.
- Temperature control or low-flow fans are controlled by the temperature of the unit itself, so they’re not always running at full speed.
- AMD Processors that include “AMD PowerNow” (the company says this new technology can reduce power consumption by up to 75 percent).
Beyond monitors and servers, consider everyday base units. You could go down the route of thin clients, which consume around much less power than a normal PC (or fat client) used for business. But this means buying more servers and ensuring you have a very reliable network, and you have to look into licensing costs. Additionally, thin clients do not suit everyone.
If you want or need to stay with the traditional PC, companies such as Dell and RM are producing new, eco-friendly or green PCs, which can use up to two-thirds less power than a conventional PC. Some achieve this by using laptop parts.
There are pros and cons to this. As with any new technology, it’s not as cheap as the conventional PC, but prices will fall in the next couple of years, and what you spend upfront will save about $200 per year per PC (depending on how much you use your computer) on your electric bill. If you multiply this by 200 or 500 PCs, you can see why the more PCs are green, the more money you are likely to save in the long run.
There are many little things you can start doing now without spending money, including implementing the cable management racks that came with servers in the first place. By keeping the backs of the server tidy, you can improve air flow around them and cut down the amount of times that the fans have to be on full blast.
Also, you can turn off the lights in the server room or data center when they aren’t needed.
By thinking and acting green, you can help save the environment, reduce your carbon footprint and advertise your business as an environmentally conscious entity.
Ken Wagner is an IT network manager and part-time IT lecturer in the United Kingdom. He has lived in the United States, Asia and Europe. He can be reached at editor (at) certmag (dot) com.