Why energy accountability is the next step in green IT

As a CIO, how well are you managing your energy costs – and what’s your incentive to do so?

This article from Harvard Business Review explores how companies can better manage their utility bills. It highlights measures such as installing smart building controls, and even suggests installing local renewable energy production facilities, such as photovoltaic solar.

We often talk about the need for a greener IT operation, but to spend much time focusing on reducing energy consumption, CIOs must be accountable for it. Typically, a CIO’s energy usage happens in the data centre, or the server room in a small company. If computers are hosted at a colocation facility, then this energy may be charged as part of the contract. If you’re running your computers on-premises, then it may be difficult to see how much juice your infrastructure is drawing.

Some of these measures may be useful for CIOs, but they can also create a more efficient energy-accountable IT operation by following some basic guidelines:

Communicate and create incentives

For CIOs, the problem lies in separation of duty. In many cases, the person responsible for installing and maintaining equipment (the IT manager or data centre manager) isn’t the same person responsible for paying the power bill (the facilities manager). Companies can reduce their power consumption by bringing these two functions together and creating incentives for CIOs to reduce their IT infrastructure’s energy consumption.

Increase energy visibility

A data centre infrastructure management system can help a CIO and their data centre manager to get better visibility into infrastructure energy usage. This category of software draws information from the IT infrastructure to help assess performance, capacity, and power usage. Often linked to sensors distributed throughout the facility, they can help managers better understand their IT infrastructure, and then model it for optimal performance. A DCIM tool may give you the information to model higher-density racks, for example, reducing your power draw.

Negotiate appropriate contracts

Aggregated energy purchasing contracts can help to leverage your dollar, providing more power at a cheaper price. It will be necessary to work with others on this kind of contract.

There are several energy efficiency measures that IT departments can take to better manage their power, ranging from virtualization and cloud computing through to data centre retrofits. Even something as basic as configuring hot and cold aisles can make a huge difference. Ultimately, though, efficiency and accountability go hand in hand. One can’t fully succeed without the other.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Danny Bradbury
Danny Bradburyhttp://www.wordherder.net
Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with over 20 years' experience writing about security, software development, and networking.

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