Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hosted Services Go Green, Save Green

Source: http://www.easterntechnologycouncil.org/downloads/etc/eTechTimes/eTT_may/eTT_MAY09_Dept-BusinessTech.html.

Hosted Services bring cleaner air and a cleaner planet. Having your own data center is not only expensive, it presents a host of environmental problems. Hosted services, says Scott Kinka of Evolve IP (www.evolveip.net), can avoid a wide range of costs and environmental challenges.

A data center consumes a lot of energy, and creates a large carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is “the total set of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product,” Kinka quotes from the UK Carbon Trust 2008. If you use a lot of computers, powering and cooling them make up a big chunk of your organization’s total carbon footprint.

Most firms cram their servers into a spare closet in an office building, and buy lots more expensive, dirty energy trying to keep them running cool. In a few years all that expensive equipment gets obsolete. It then becomes just another tangle of un-bio-degradable scrap in a landfill, maybe leaking mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, and a plethora of other toxins into somebody's groundwater. And at every step, it spawns a minefield of potential liabilities, as regulators seek to make us more responsible for cleaning up after ourselves.

To summarize the points in his May '09 Tech Times article:
  • The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of any technology solution includes not just the hardware and software, but the maintenance staff and fees, power, and environmental support for the equipment itself, as well as isolating the impact it has on nearby "wetware"; i.e., humans.

  • One typical digital PBX (phone system) server consumes roughly 700 watts of power. Since that's almost as much energy as running a small space heater, a toaster, or seven 100 watt light bulbs, it generates a lot of heat that must be removed into the atmosphere, further increasing the global warming effect. And of course, what's a phone server without a voice and email server, file server, and several routers, each running at several hundred watts?

  • A shared facility is optimized to bring servers on- and off-line quickly, as demand changes. Many more applications can run on far fewer servers. (In another source, I found that a single-application server typically runs at one tenth of its capacity.)
My Questions:
  1. I’ve read that 10% is typical for an application server in a corporate data center. How much energy would a server running at 10% capacity consume, and heat produce? What percent would optimal capacity be? It would be helpful to see studies that compare and illustrate various cases. I’d guess that shared servers in a corporate data center are a bit better optimized. Do utilization rates compare to a hosted center?
  2. At what scale does it make sense to consider moving to a hosted solution? This could be either in terms of benefit:cost ratio (revenue available, earnings at risk) or as a measure of operational and infrastructural overhead.
  3. At the other end, at what point does a firm tend to exit the hosted solution, and build its own data center/server farm? And, what cost and risk factors are most likely to be ignored in this process?

IBM duo slashing power use at data centers

Source: http://triangle.bizjournals.com/triangle/stories/2008/06/16/focus2.html.

Data centers are those mysterious buildings loaded with electronic machinery and mostly devoid of people. In 2006, data centers consumed 1.5 percent of all the power produced in the United States. Three years have passed, and their numbers have only grown, along with their energy consumption.

All that energy is expensive and dirty, and IBM's Project Big Green is working to reduce it. Last year, the firm's Gerstner Award for Client Excellence went to Chris Molloy and Mike Hogan for helping the firm and its clients diminish their collective carbon footprint.