Five Reasons IT Should Embrace Energy Reduction Targets

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Five Reasons IT Should Embrace Energy Reduction Targets

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - 12:05pm

“Uptime” is defined as the amount of time a machine—typically a computer—is in operation. In our tech-driven business world, uptime is vital. Without it, airplanes are grounded, stock markets screech to a costly halt, and essential medical equipment stops saving lives. It’s no surprise that for Information Technology (IT) managers, everything else takes a backseat to controlling uptime. 

In data centers across the globe, this creates a state of hyper-preparedness: parallel systems, creating backups for backups, running equipment at maximum power settings, and keeping excess capacity at the ready. All this preparedness comes at an added cost to companies in terms of energy consumption and operational spend. But it’s a cost that’s largely invisible to IT departments because IT isn’t typically measured on reducing energy use. 

But there are compelling reasons why companies should change that metric, making IT and other heavy energy consumers accountable to achieving reduction targets. And even more compelling reasons why IT managers should embrace it. 

Ironically, IT plays a pivotal role in driving the shift. Smart meters installed on the company’s electrical circuits provide information about when, where and how much energy is consumed. Armed with this insight, company leaders can set specific energy and cost reduction targets, and can track usage to hold individual organizations accountable for achieving the reductions. For IT, which often carries the largest share of a company’s energy use, this can also be a ripe opportunity to use the insight to not only accelerate efficiency for their company, but to advance departmental objectives. 

1. Achieve quick wins 
Data centers are often a company’s most effective place to start improving inefficient energy use. One easy place to start is with room temperature. 

It’s general practice to keep the data center ultra-cool to avoid equipment failures from overheating. But without insight into the real-time temperatures of each critical component, the practice leads to cooling more space at a lower temperature than is necessary. The average data center takes as much energy to cool as to compute. 

By becoming aware and using insight technology that companies like HPE have already built into equipment, such as power and thermal monitoring, as well as management software, IT managers can isolate the hot spots and make simple adjustments that keep the equipment performing at optimum levels in a more efficient climate-controlled environment. 

Another quick win is to look for equipment that’s plugged-in but not doing any useful work. An estimated 18-30 percent of servers in the data center are consuming a significant amount of electricity but not doing any work—with no return on the investment. 

2. Fund unfunded projects
Every IT organization has projects in waiting because annual budgets only stretch so far. Leveraging the insights from smart metering, department managers have effective leverage to negotiate for additional funds. By taking a baseline measurement of energy use and committing to key reduction targets, managers can barter to keep a certain percentage—25, 50, 75 percent—of the savings within their department. In this way, finance and operations can still meet their overall reduction metrics while IT secures budget for their previously unfunded projects. This model delivers added incentive for IT departments to drive even greater energy efficiency because the more energy they save, the higher the funding they get for their projects. 

3. Free up space
A common complaint of IT managers is lack of data center space to add capacity. But often there is obsolete or under-utilized equipment that is unnecessarily driving up energy use and operational costs without delivered optimum value. Drawing insights from smart metering and the energy management software already built into many pieces of IT equipment, IT managers can pinpoint the underutilized and unused equipment, freeing up valuable data center rack and floor space, while reducing energy use and achieving reduction targets. 

4. Create some momentum
Once IT managers see a few quick wins—and the effective payoff—the quest to find more sources of energy savings begins to accelerate. Eventually the focus moves from the data center to other parts of the organization, such as PCs, printing, networking, professional services, and storage. 

For example, HPE ships all personal computers with power-saving settings enabled. But companies may remove these setting while loading their own programs before delivering the computers to their employees. This action disables the preset energy-saving mode on the equipment. parts of the organization, such as PCs, printing, networking, professional services, and storage. 

By simply re-engaging these power-saving settings on the new PCs, companies can realize energy and cost savings on every PC they deploy. By making this small change, companies can save a significant amount of power, as well as money, while making their computing infrastructure more efficient. parts of the organization, such as PCs, printing, networking, professional services, and storage. 

5. Protect the future
Technology is vital to business. Just as vital is ensuring the world has sufficient resources available to power technology. Our data needs are growing so fast, without new approaches, we may surpass our ability to meet the energy and space requirements of that growth. parts of the organization, such as PCs, printing, networking, professional services, and storage. 

By embracing reduction targets, IT departments can have a tremendous impact on reducing not only their company’s energy use, but also reducing carbon emissions. That drives both economic and environmental progress, and contributes to a more sustainable business today and a healthier planet to support future generations. parts of the organization, such as PCs, printing, networking, professional services, and storage.

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