Green IT – Not just “nice to do”.

News this week from the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) – “the impacts of global warming are likely to be “severe, pervasive and irreversible”. After a winter in the UK that has seen major storms and rainfall we can expect more incidents of severe weather as we go forward.

Worldwide, the carbon footprint of IT is actually larger than that of the airline industry – and it’s growing. As more and more of the developing world adopt information technology, the carbon emissions generated will increase with it.

There was political news too. Centrica warned that government policy would likely lead to energy shortages in the UK and electrical black-outs. Strangely, this isn’t new. In 2012 the government forecasted a 20% shortfall in electricity forecast for the years 2015-2017. This, they said, was due to a number of factors that would create “a perfect storm”.

  • Dirty, coal powered power stations that fail to meet agreed emission targets must close by 2015.
  • Existing Magnox nuclear power stations are reaching the end of their life.
  • Wind, renewables and AGR nuclear plants will not cover the shortfall.
  • Reduced demand due to the recession has delayed the build of new capacity. Even if the building programme is restarted, it is unlikely that any new plants will be online before 2017.

Whatever way you look at it, we must all do whatever we can to reduce our energy usage.

Data Centres continue to grow exponentially and even though the latest servers are more energy efficient, the number deployed is ever-rising as too is the number of desk-top and mobile devices.

In these circumstances is it not incredible that few IT Managers are held accountable for the energy cost of the IT deployed to support the business. Sure, they have initiated hardware rationalisation projects but the outcomes of these projects are measured in cost savings not energy savings.

We must push ‘Green IT’ higher up the strategic agenda. The government has done much to “Green” governmental ICT. The Greening Government ICT strategy is intended to minimise the impact of the UK Government on the environment and reduce both green-house gas emissions and waste in support of the Government’s commitment to achieve a 25% reduction in green-house emissions by 2015.

It’s time IT Manager’s followed this lead and set their own targets for energy reduction and carbon emissions. Highly principled, reputable companies like Unilever do this. Let us all follow suit.

Stuart Sawle

Sysop

http://www.sysop.co.uk/green-it

The CMDB – a Green Dimension

Whenever I speak about Green IT, I assert that most IT Managers don’t know how much electricity their IT infrastructure consumes. Some challenge my statement and state categorically that they know exactly how much electricity they use because it is separately metered. Usually, however, this turns out to be the Data Centre alone. It does not include the vast amount of infrastructure out there on the network: user desktops; switches; routers; departmental printers; etc.

It’s an almost impossible task to keep track of the power consumption of everything out there – or is it?

We have a powerful tool at our disposal in the CMDB. We only need to ascertain the power usage of a device once and can record that in the CMDB and very quickly total the power usage of all of those devices across the network. Sure, we need to factor in service hours (likely switch-on time) and our model will never be as accurate as direct measurement. However it will give us a pretty good estimate and, more importantly, it will help us determine trends – are we getting better or worse – and will help us model the effect of changes to the standard roll-out.

I fully appreciate that not all service management tool-providers will include this level of detail at the moment; but with the rapidly rising cost of electricity and the increasing importance of a green agenda; it won’t be long before they do.

Stuart Sawle

http://www.sysop.co.uk

The UK Energy Crisis

I’ve been banging on quite a bit lately about the looming energy crisis and why IT professionals need to act to reduce their energy use. I thought it would be useful to set out the background to the challenges we face.

Government Policy

In its annual energy statement (Nov 2011), the Department of Energy and Climate Change said government policies would increase the cost of electricity by 27% by 2020.

 Data Centre Growth

Data Centres continue to grow exponentially and even though the latest servers are more energy efficient, the number deployed is ever-rising. These large-scale data centres already exceed the capacity of some urban electricity sub-stations and organisations who have or had data centres in central London and Canary Wharf are already moving to the country.

Government Forecasts

In the supporting documentation for the UK Climate Change Bill, the government forecasts a 20% shortfall in electricity forecast for the years 2015-2017. This is due to a number of factors that create “a perfect storm”.

  • Dirty, coal powered power stations that fail to meet agreed emission targets must close by 2015.
  • Existing Magnox nuclear power stations are reaching the end of their life.
  • Wind, renewables and AGR nuclear plants will not cover the shortfall.
  • Reduced demand due to the recession has delayed the build of new capacity. Even if the building programme is restarted, it is unlikely that any new plants will be online before 2017.

This is why Sysop is working very closely with Lord Redesdale (Chairman of the Carbon Management Association) to develop a package of training courses to further spread the awareness and take-up of best practice energy management in ICT. Focusing on Financial Directors, we plan to educate and help transform energy management within UK organisations.

I am presenting at the itSMF conference in November – “Keeping the Lights On”, Tuesday morning, after coffee; and will set out some good practice techniques that can reduce IT energy demand by 40% or more.

Without a doubt, we need to get really serious about exploring the Green dimension to managing our IT. The ISEB Foundation Certificate in Green IT is a really good starting point. This link to the BCS website contains more information as does the Sysop website.

Stuart Sawle     www.sysop.co.uk

Scary Thoughts on Energy

I put my Green IT hat on and went to a meeting in London this week to learn more about the Carbon Management Association. Our host was Lord Redesdale a Lib-Dem Peer and former spokesman on Energy.

Lord Redesdale opened the meeting with a startling government projection. The government estimates that UK will need around 30-35GW of new electricity generation capacity over the next two decades as many of the UK’s current coal and nuclear power stations, built in the 1960s and 1970s, reach the end of their lives and are set to close.
He went onto highlight a number of specific concerns for anyone engaged in IT Management.

The first is that there will be insufficient energy available to satisfy peak demand from 2015 onwards. The second related is that the price of energy is set to rise even more sharply than it has so far as the combined effects of the Climate Change Levy and the underlying increase in cost of energy continues. His third point is that IT infrastructure continues to expand massively and is set to consume around 10% of the UK electricity supply if it doesn’t do so already!

A study from IT services supplier Computacenter and Fujitsu Siemens Computers, for example, shows that the UK’s top 200 listed companies waste more than £61m in electricity a year by not maximising the energy efficiency of their desktop computers. With the IT industry accounting for more carbon emissions than the airline industry our appetite for energy seems almost insatiable.

In these circumstances is it not incredible that IT Managers are rarely held accountable for the energy cost of the IT deployed to support the business. Sure, many have implemented power-management software on desk-top PC’s, but this is rarely ever part of a coherent energy management strategy.

There is a real need to extend the education of IT professionals to include energy management as part of their responsibilities. The ISEB Foundation Course in Green IT is a significant first step but more, much more needs to be done, urgently.

Stuart Sawle                           www.sysop.co.uk