A couple of years ago, I was researching an article for EContent Magazine on green publishing. I assumed that if you moved content online, it would naturally be more environmentally friendly than paper products, produced from trees, and moved by trucks with a huge environmental footprint. I was wrong.
As I spoke to sources, I came to realize that there was an environmental price to pay for online content too, and just how high that price was depended on factors such as how efficient the data center was that hosted the content, and what type of power source the data center was closest to.
If the data center was near a coal burning power plant, for instance, its environmental impact was larger than one near a cleaner energy source. But that was only part of the story.
There are many factors inside the data center that can affect its environmental impact. If the center itself has been built efficiently, it can reduce significantly its impact on the environment. How much?
According to Rahul Singh, principal at Pace Harmon, as quoted in this TMCnet.com article using virtualization can increase efficiency because instead of dedicating an application to a given server, you are spreading it out across many servers. This results in far less server down time. Singh said:
The increased utilization can significantly reduce the power, cooling, network infrastructure, storage infrastructure and real estate requirements — resulting in significant decreases in energy consumption (50 to 70 percent) and the carbon footprint of enterprise data centers.
That could explain why Google, owners of vast server farms, and always looking for an edge recently joined forces with Good Energies, a Park Avenue energy investment firm to build a 350-mile underwater spine, which according to a Boston Globe article, "could remove some critical obstacles to wind power development."
Of course, it's in Google's business interests to come up with more efficient ways to run its enourmous data centers, and as I stated earlier, while they can control how efficient they run the inside of the building, they can't always control how clean the closest power source is when it comes to generating that energy.
I've heard people suggest that Google was getting involved in the wind turbine plan as a publicity stunt, but I tend to believe it's far more practical than that. As a company that uses colossal amounts of power and has the corresponding bills that go with that, anything that will lower those overall costs will increase its profits, especially when you consider that Google provides the majority of its services for free.
Just makes good business sense. And what's good for Google could be good for you too. If you can use virtualization and the cloud to help generate greater efficiencies in your data centers, and you can reduce power consumption, you'll be helping the planet for which you'll probably get feel-good and PR points, but you'll also be saving money and from a business perspective that should please your shareholders and other investors.
Whatever your reasons or motivation, virtualizing can help you run a leaner, cleaner data center and that's a goal we should be able to all get behind.
Disclaimer: As with everything else at Cool Solutions, this content is definitely not supported by Novell (so don't even think of calling Support if you try something and it blows up).
It was contributed by a community member and is published "as is." It seems to have worked for at least one person, and might work for you. But please be sure to test, test, test before you do anything drastic with it.