How to Go Green without Seeing Red, Part II

7. Outsourcing

Cloud computing or collocation data center providers offer a new way to help reduce your carbon footprint. These types of facilities are typically well underway to becoming some of the most efficient spaces in the industry, as they have stiff competition that forces them to continually reduce operating costs.

If your current data center was designed more than 15 years ago, you could see a twofold decrease in carbon emissions by moving your compute requirements to leading edge facility. However, with that said, there are still many concerns with security, data and program ownership and other operational anxieties that, if not handled correctly, could be troublesome. So companies like Eaton that are looking to reduce their carbon footprint while still maintaining full control of their own data processing environment, have decided to build their own leading edge efficiency data centers.

8. Fostering alignment between IT and facilities

As noted earlier, friction between the IT department’s desire to minimize hardware procurement costs and the facilities department’s desire to reduce power spending can complicate green IT initiatives. Conversely, then, eliminating that friction can make adopting green IT easier. Changing your organizational structure such that both IT and facilities report to the same C-level executive is a relatively simple way to align everyone in your data center around common goals, metrics and objectives. That, in turn, will help ensure that IT and facilities managers are equally motivated to lower power bills without reducing uptime.

The merits of greening your data center are beyond debate. In an era of tight budgets, saving money by increasing the energy efficiency of your IT operations is self-evident. Furthermore, reducing your carbon footprint has positive implications not only for your company’s public image but for the long term health of the planet as well.

Unfortunately, though, there’s no such thing as a painless path to sustainable IT. Green technologies are often more expensive and complex than older, less power-efficient alternatives. In many cases, therefore, green initiatives conflict with critical IT priorities like saving money and maintaining uptime.

However, a variety of practical green solutions capable of delivering measurable return on investment are available today. In fact, Eaton is currently completing two state-of-the-art data centers that are designed from the ground up to take maximum advantage of such strategies. Many of these practices, such as deploying more energy-efficient UPSs and realigning your IT and facilities department under common leadership, entail far more reward than risk. Others, like leveraging free cooling and raising server inlet temperatures, offer a mix of advantages and disadvantages, and should be approached more cautiously.

The key point, however, is that IT and facilities managers should neither dismiss green IT out of hand nor leap into it without a solid plan. To ensure that they go green without going into the red, businesses should investigate green technologies carefully, identify the most cost-effective ones and implement them in a focused, disciplined manner.

William W. Blausey Jr. is SVP and CIO for Eaton Corporation, an $11.9 billion global technology leader in electrical components and systems for power quality, distribution and control. In this role, Blausey is responsible for the enterprise IT strategy and execution. Blausey assumed his current position in January 2006 after serving as VP, Information Technology, for Eaton’s Fluid Power Group since 2001. Blausey earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and is located in Cleveland, Ohio.