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Virtualization: Article

Virtualization and the Other Green Computing Initiative

Reducing power consumption and management expenses

There’s been a lot of hype over the past year surrounding “green” computing and the drive to lower the impact of IT and data centers on the environment. While we’re all for the concept of green computing and reducing the impact of computing on our environment, we’re also cognizant of the reality that every IT organization also has to worry about the other kind of green: its bottom line.

The good news is that there is some amount of overlap between these green computing initiatives. Reducing power consumption and management expenses, and increasing efficiency of existing resources through consolidation and virtualization decreases both the impact of devices on the environment as well as on IT’s increasingly tightening budget.

Reducing Power and Heat
The easiest way to reduce the impact of any device on the bottom line, be it a server or networking equipment, is to reduce the amount of power it requires. Modern servers often draw variable amounts of power based on the processing power in use by applications. Similarly, some networking equipment and other devices provide the same functionality, drawing varying amounts of power based on their load and configuration. This can be beneficial in reducing the operating cost of the server or device, but like dealing with variable costs of bandwidth due to bursts in usage, also makes it difficult to estimate annual costs and budget appropriately.

Another simple, but often overlooked, facet is how many BTUs are generated by any given device. By decreasing the BTUs generated, there is less heat and thus less cooling required within the data center. The costs of cooling a data center are larger than those to heat one, owing to the fact that much of the heating needs in a data center are inherently taken care of by the BTUs generated by the devices it houses. Reducing these costs can have a significant impact on the operating expenses of any IT organization.

Reducing power consumption and generation of BTUs for devices and servers is something over which IT has no control. While IT can certainly use such ratings as part of its decision-making process for purchasing, it really can’t do a thing to affect how much power is consumed or how many BTUs are generated by any given device. It’s simply a cost of doing business.

Yet IT can make decisions, both in purchasing and architecture, that reduce power consumption and heat generation by cutting the number of servers and devices that make up its data center. Consolidation and virtualization are both ways in which IT can positively impact its bottom line.

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

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