Best Practices 2007: Green IT


When it comes to the future of the Canadian green data centre, the most popular green technology that is being done or is in the works for the next year – according to a Symantec Canada survey – include server virtualization (67 per cent), replacing old equipment with more energy-efficient models (56 per cent), server consolidation (56 per cent), recycling obsolete hardware/components (51 per cent), and monitoring power consumption more carefully (37 per cent).

Canadian findings show that “backhanded greening” is in effect in Canadian data centres, where managers are, generally, attempting to reduce energy consumption, with a greener data centre only a coincidental benefit. When it comes to the numbers, the two reasons were neck and neck—32 per cent of Canadians cited a “sense of responsibility to the community” as the single most important motivator behind the green data centre, while 30 per cent said cost reduction was.


Data centre administrators are not used to an energy efficient culture. It might be up to the products themselves—servers with built-in power-gauging ability and power management-equipped software like Windows Server 2008—to push the trend along. Said Arron Hay of Info-Tech Research: “Lots of users maintain the factory default settings.”

The data centre administrator who wants to stay ahead of the game can implement servers that work smarter, not harder. “They need to have variable speeds and delivery systems so that they are efficient at different and partial loads,” said Microsoft green consultant Dave Ohara.


Flooring, while not sounding like a radical innovation, does require advanced thinking in terms of a holistic design for wiring, cooling, and placement. This is not easy to fix in older data centres, but efficient flooring is being built into new ones. A good example is Toronto Hydro Telecom’s new collocation facility and its use of interstitial raised floors. The idea is to separate cabling from air flow, and for the efficiency to result in reduced requirements for air conditioning units. Ian Collins, vice-president of operations for Toronto Hydro Telecom, sees this as a reflecting a big change in how we look at data centres.

“A few years ago the biggest cost was floor space, now 70 per cent is energy,” says Collins. “The interstitial floor is like a balloon, the floor itself is pressurized, with the air released in specific locations. There are temperature and humidity monitors throughout the floor space. This is 30 inches with a 15/15 split, half for cable sand half for air space.”


Bell Canada this year launched two new tools that it hopes will help IT managers get on board with teleconferencing and assist in promoting the greening of IT within the enterprise.

The Smart Meeting Guide shows how virtual meetings can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut travel costs. While the guide indicates that face-to-face meetings are useful for project launches, new business relationships, important announcements, and recognition events; it encourages organizations to consider teleconferencing for such meeting involving on-going projects, updates, information sessions, training, and regular team or company gatherings. It also advises organizations to measure factors such as CO2 emissions, cost, work-life balance, and efficiency, when coming up with a plan to implement audio, Web or videoconferencing.