Less than 100 billion : Estimated number of kilowatt-hours consumed by servers and data centers in 2011, representing $7.4 billion in annual electricity costs

When Less Means More

As the need to reduce costs continues to grow for state and local government, many IT departments are committing to energy efficiency as a way to not only cut spending but also minimize the environmental impact of their IT operations.

According to the findings of CDW·G's 2010 Energy Efficient IT Report, 77 percent of the 154 state and local IT professionals surveyed have or are developing programs to manage and reduce energy use at their agencies. The study examines where energy efficiency ranks among IT priorities, how organizations are improving efficiency, and what challenges hinder the achievement of efficiency goals.

As state and local governments continue to experience revenue shortfalls, agencies are under pressure to find savings wherever they can. Data center consolidation presents a popular starting point. In fact, 86 percent of survey respondents have or are developing a consolidation strategy.

Reducing servers, storage, network gear, and power and cooling equipment in the data center not only cuts operational costs, it also delivers the side benefit of reducing energy consumption. In fact, 60 percent of respondents across all industries identify reducing energy consumption as the top driver of data center consolidation.

What to Do and Where

Some steps that IT leaders are taking to improve energy efficiency in the data center include virtualizing servers and storage, consolidating uninterruptible power supply devices, deploying high-density cooling, replacing old processors with low-wattage versions, redesigning data centers to balance equipment and cooling needs, and utilizing private or public clouds.

In addition, network operations centers and wiring closets, which offer many energy-saving opportunities, are also gaining attention. For example, a full 76 percent of surveyed organizations have adopted at least one of the following strategies for their network services:

  • deploying more power-efficient core switches;
  • replacing edge and workgroup switches with more power-efficient switches;
  • using the network as a platform to better manage energy use;
  • adopting 10 Gigabit Ethernet and Infiniband technologies;
  • implementing Fibre Channel over Ethernet;
  • moving to top-of-rack models for access layer switching.

Finally, don't forget the desktop, where many organizations began their initial green IT efforts. Many state and local governments are reducing power demands by migrating monitors from CRTs to LCDs, rolling out PCs with low-wattage processors and deploying power management tools.

These changes are already paying off. The majority of survey respondents (64 percent) reported energy cost savings of 1 percent or more annually. Year over year, that adds up to significant savings.

Measuring Efforts

While many public-sector leaders are being proactive in their efforts to reduce energy usage, many are also cognizant of the need to gauge progress to determine whether their green IT initiatives are actually effective. In fact, 68 percent of state and local respondents are familiar with the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star Rating for Data Centers program.

Another way to measure energy efficiency in the data center is to use the Power Usage Effectiveness metric. PUE is a ratio of total facility power consumed to the amount of power that is directly needed to operate IT equipment. The ideal PUE rating to work toward is 1, with all power going directly to IT equipment; anything above 3 spells trouble. The CDW·G report, however, found that only 11 percent of state and local governments currently track PUE.

Whether your agency has succeeded in reducing energy consumption or has yet to implement some of these initiatives, remember that moving to a more energy-efficient model can help accomplish the goals of becoming more economically and environmentally responsible.

Environmental Protection Agency
Apr 01 2011