IBM Moves to Make Data Centers More Energy-Efficient

By Patrick Hoffman  |  Posted 2007-05-11 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

IBM unveils "Project Big Green," which it claims will save enterprises money and make them more energy-efficient when it comes to their data centers.

IBM on May 11 introduced its energy-efficiency deployment strategy, where the company will invest $1 billion per year to help businesses increase their level of energy efficiency in their IT departments while also allowing businesses to save money.

IBM expects the strategy, "Project Big Green," to help businesses save as much as 42 percent in power bills.

"Currently, there is an energy crisis, and not only does it have an impact on society, but it also impacts everything that is used to run businesses," Val Rahmani, general manager of Infrastructure Management Services for the New York-based IBM Global Technology Services, told eWEEK. "For example, IT departments have a substantial impact when it comes to helping run a business."

By 2010, IBM hopes to double the computing capacity of its data centers without having to increase power consumption. To do so, the strategy maps out a five-step approach—Diagnose, Build, Virtualize, Manage and Cool—bundling an array of hardware, software and services.

"This energy crisis had been brewing for some time as it manifested itself," Mike Daniels, senior vice president of IBM Global Technology services, told eWEEK. "Businesses did not anticipate the heat."

"IBM's approach differs from other vendors pushing green agendas because it combines hardware, software and services," said Rakesh Kumar, a Gartner vice president based in the United Kingdom. "Companies like Hewlett-Packard and Sun, which unveiled green initiatives before Big Blue, focused their strategies on hardware products."

How can solution providers get involved with the rising need for improved methods of data center cooling? Listen to the podcast.

The Diagnose stage of IBM's green strategy includes the company's Data Center Energy Efficiency Assessment service, which rates the energy efficiency of a company's data center and constructs a plan for the business to use to improve its efficiency. It also features IBM Research's mobile measurement technology, which measures 3-D temperature distributions within data centers.

The Build step gets businesses to focus on developing an energy-efficient data center with the help of IBM's Energy Efficiency Self Assessment service, which provides businesses with a free online view of their data center energy efficiency, as well as its Scalable Modular Data Center, a preconfigured 500- or 1,000-square-foot data center platform that includes energy-efficient technologies.

IBM's Virtualize part of Project Big Green provides businesses with virtualization technologies that enable them to merge their work onto fewer computers. This will help companies reduce energy and save money. It also includes an IBM blade server, processor and WebSphere DataPower SOA Appliance that allow businesses to reduce the need for additional hardware and power consumption.

The Management step gives businesses software that monitors power consumption, enabling them to set power policies and track energy usage. This software includes Tivoli management software, as well as PowerExecutive software, an energy management tool that provides businesses with a view of power that is used as well as the ability to match and cap power and thermal limits in the data center.

"Businesses need to carefully monitor their sites today because any mistake could have a substantial impact," Daniels said.

As part of the fifth step, IBM will launch cooling platforms that are able to reduce server heat output in data centers without having to use additional fans or electricity.

"This strategy is significant [for] consolidating spending, centralizing functions and is just one more step of evolving a globally operated enterprise," Daniels said.

One company that has taken advantage of this strategy is Pacific Gas and Electric. The company plans to consolidate close to 300 Unix servers onto six IBM System p servers and will use IBM's Rear Door Heat eXchanger water cooling technology to reduce heat emissions from the back of the systems.

"We are taking a holistic approach when it comes to energy efficiency and, with IBM, identifying new energy-efficient technologies quicker," Brad Whitcomb, vice president of Customer Products & Services at PG&E, told eWEEK.

When it comes to competitors, Kumar believes that IBM took a big step forward with this announcement.

"IBM took the lead with [May 10's] announcement," Kumar said. "IBM customers can, theoretically, go to a single vendor and get the whole raft of technologies and services; plus they can work with IBM partners."

Brian Watson, senior writer at Baseline, contributed to this article.

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