Power reality checks

Johannesburg, 17 Jan 2008

Eskom's rolling blackouts and higher costs of energy must make businesses re-evaluate the way they implement technology, say technology vendors.

"Businesses should consider the new reality. If they want to be in business in the future, they have to change the way they use power, and reduce their impact on the environment," says HP SA enterprise storage and server group manager Yergen Govender.

He says corporate SA needs to change its mindset. "Energy is not an infinite resource. Organisations should be cognisant of this and look at ways of reducing their use of energy. It would be interesting to see how many organisations are able to measure their IT carbon footprint."

Govender says the company's scientists estimate business technology consumes 415 million tonnes of coal per year, with 864 million tonnes of CO2 greenhouse emissions.

Off the mark

South African companies are looking at the problem from the wrong angle, says Imi Mosaheb, AMD SA country manager. "Organisations are not using what power they have efficiently. Instead, they are adding generators and power supplies. On top of this, they build data recovery centres with more power requirements, instead of switching to more power-efficient technology."

He says with the increasing value of data, it's no surprise that companies are scrambling to protect it in whatever way they can. "However, by switching to technologies with better power efficiencies, companies can save both power and money at the end of the day."

According to AMD, the company has focused on developing technologies with higher performance, but with no thermal increase. "Although some clients have switched to more power-efficient systems, others are not willing to take the risk of changing."

Mosaheb says international companies have been forced to consider the amount of power they consume and how much of a carbon footprint they leave behind. "Green Grid is a consortium of technology companies that are looking at how to reduce carbon emissions, with a specific focus on the data centre."

Technology backing

AMD is a board member of Green Grid. Alongside several technology giants, Novell is also a contributing member to the consortium.

Novell SA sales director Desan Naidoo says Green Grid aims to make energy-efficiency part of any company's IT and business strategy, specifically inside the data centre. He says there are many ways to change and manage power within these environments, without having to rip-and-replace.

"The environmental movement is rapidly maturing, and with the current load problems, it becomes very applicable in the local market. With that in mind, companies should be looking into virtualisation, which would help companies place multiple workloads on the same server, allowing for fewer physical servers and thus lowering the electricity and cooling requirements," says Naidoo.

He says with the backing of technology consortiums, clean virtualisation strategies will create new usage models that could transform the entire IT industry.

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