Looking for Green Skies

By Eileen Feretic  |  Posted 2009-06-01 Print this article Print

At Los Angeles World Airports, the IT organization is laying the groundwork to become the world’s most technologically advanced airport.


Another area that’s undergoing major changes involves LAWA’s three data centers, which are “pretty much maxed out,” according to Nessi. He is now scouting out locations in a three- to five-mile radius of LAX for the site of a modern, green data center that would replace the three existing ones.

To deal with LAWA’s server needs until the new center is completed in approximately two years, Nessi began a virtualization project, which is about 40 percent complete. “We’ve actually stopped there,” he says, “because we’ve turned all our attention to finding the best location for the new data center.”

Though the location of the data center is still up in the air, the color isn’t: It will be green. “We’re looking at all aspects of sustainability,” Nessi says, “everything from how we buy our power and where our power emanates from to how we cool the data center. We’ve started discussing a number of different sustainable designs.

“We’re right along the ocean here, and it’s fairly cool most of the year, so we don’t need to have a closed system. We’re considering using external air to cool the data center to around 70 degrees. We could take in fresh air and condition it to make sure it’s clean, and then vent the heated air from the servers. We’re currently looking at a number of external-air designs.”

Another key location priority is to find a site from which LAWA can purchase green power.

Environmental issues are important to Nessi, who is the chairperson of an IT sustainability subcommittee of the Airports Council International, an association of the world’s airports. “As an airport community, we’re starting to pull together ideas on the best ways to have a sustainable IT environment—one that goes beyond the data center,” he explains. “For instance, we’re putting a script into our network that every night will automatically shut off all of our PCs that aren’t being used.”

LAWA is also looking at different ways to dispose of old computer equipment. “We refresh 3,000 to 4,000 PCs every three or four years, and that’s a vast amount of toxic material going back into the environment,” Nessi says. “So we’re starting to look at different things we can do to handle this problem.”

Nessi doesn’t believe that a lower budget is an excuse for any CIO to give up on green IT initiatives. “You always have to replace some hardware, and you can use those opportunities to add some green to your data center,” he points out.

“For instance, moving from a rack-mounted server to a blade server generally reduces power consumption by about 25 percent; migrating from fat clients to thin clients could save as much as 85 percent on power; and going from conventional monitors to Energy Star-rated monitors could save about 92 percent.

“There are many different things we all can do. One change we at LAWA plan to make is to use vendors and suppliers that sell green products.”

Eileen Feretic is the Editor of Baseline Magazine.

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