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Happy Earth Day 2010!

Here in the northern hemisphere it is late April and thus mid spring time.

That means the trees sprouting their buds, leaves and flowering while other plants and things come to life.

In Minnesota where I live, there is not a cloud in the sky today, the sun is out and its going to be another warm day in the 60s, a nice day to not be flying or traveling and thus enjoy the fine weather.

Among other things of note on this earth day 2010 include:
  • Minnesota Twins new home Target Field was just named the most Green Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium as well as greenest in the US with its LEED (or see here) certification.
  • Icelands Eyjafjallajokull volcano continues to spew water vapor steam, CO2 and ash at a slower rate than last week when it first erupted with some speculating that there could be impending activity from other Icelandic volcanos. Some estimates placed the initial eruption CO2 impact and subsequent flight cancellations to be neutral, essentially canceling each other out, however Im sure we will be hearing many different stories in the weeks to come.
  • Photo of Iceland Volcano via www.boston.com
    Image of Iceland Eyjafjallajokull Volcano Eruption via Boston.com

  • Flights to/from and within Europe and the UK are returning to normal
  • Toyota continues to deal with recalls on some of their US built automobiles including the energy efficient Prius, some of which may have been purchased during the recent US cash for clunkers (CFC) program (hmm, is that ironic or what?)
  • Greenpeace in addition to using a Facebook page to protest Facebook data center practices is now targeting cloud IT in general including just before the Apple iPad launch (Heres some comments from Microsoft).
  • Vendors in all industries are lining up for the second coming of Green marketing or perhaps Green Washing 2.0

The new Green IT, moving beyond Green wash and hype

Speaking of Green IT including Green Computing, Green Storage, Virtualization, Cloud, Federation and more, here is a link to a post that I did back in February discussing how the Green Gap continues to exist.

The green gap exists and centers around the confusion of what Green means along with the common disconnects between core IT issues or barriers to becoming more efficient, effective, flexible and optimized from both an economic as well as environmental basis to those commonly messaged to under the green umbrella (read more here).

Regardless of where you stand on Green, Green washing, Green hype, environmentalism, eco-tech and other related themes, for at least a moment, set aside the politics and science debates and think in terms of practicality and economics.

That is, look for simple, recurring things that can be done to stretch your dollar or spending ability in order to support demand (See figure below) in a more effective manner along with reducing waste. For example to meet growing demand requirements in the face of shrinking or stagnate budgets, the action is to stretch available resources to do more work when needed, or retain more where applicable with the same or less footprint. What this means is that while common messaging is around reducing costs, look at the inverse which is to do more with available budgets or resources. The result is green in terms of economic and environmental benefits.

IT Resource demand
Increasing IT Resource Demand

Green IT wheel of oppourtunity
Green IT enablement techniques and technologies

Look at and understand the broader aspects of being green which has both economical and environmental benefits without compromising on productivity or functionality. There are many aspects or facets of being green beyond those commonly discussed or perceived to be so (See Green IT enablement techniques and technologies figure above).

Certainly recycling of paper, water, aluminum, plastics and other items including technology equipment are important to reduce waste and are things to consider. Another aspect of reducing waste particularly in IT is to avoid rework that can range from finding network bottlenecks or problems that result in continuous retransmission of data for failed backup, replication or data transfers that cause lost opportunity or resource consumption. Likewise programming errors (bugs) or miss configuration that results in rework or lost productivity also are forms of waste among others.

Another theme is that of shifting from energy avoidance to energy efficiency and effectiveness which are often thought to the same. However the expanded focus is also about getting more work done when needed with the same or less resources (See figure below) for example increasing activity (IOPS, transactions, emails or video served, bandwidth or messages) per watt of energy consumed.

From energy avoidence to effectiveness
Shifting from energy avoidance to effectiveness

One of the many techniques and approaches for addressing energy including stretching resources and being green include intelligent power management (IPM). With IPM, the focus is not strictly centered around energy avoidance, instead about inteligently adapting to different workloads or activity balancing performance and energy. Thus when there is work to be done, get the work done quickly with as little energy as possible (IOP or activity per watt), when there is less work, provide lower performance and thus smaller energy requirements, or when no work to be done, going into additional energy saving modes. Thus power management does not have to be exclusively about turrning off the lights or IT equipment in order to be green.

The following two figures look at Green IT past, present and future with an expanding focus around optimization and effectiveness meaning getting more work done, storing more data for longer periods of time, meeting growth demands with what appears to be additional resources however at a lower per unit cost without compromising on performance, availability or economics.

Green IT wheel of oppourtunity
Green IT: Past, present and future shift from avoidance to efficiency and effectiveness

Green IT wheel of oppourtunity
The new Green IT: Boosting business effectiveness, maximize ROI while helping the environment

If you think about going green as simply doing or using things more effectively, reducing waste, working more intelligently or effectively the benefits are both economical and environmentally positive (See the two figures above).

Instead of finding ways to fund green initiatives, shift the focus to how you can enable enhanced productivity, stretching resources further, doing more in the same or smaller footprint (floor space, power, cooling, energy, personal, licensing, budgets) for business economic and environmental sustainability with the result being environmental encampments.

Also keep in mind that small percentage changes on a large or recurring basis have significant benefits. For example a small change in cooling temperatures while staying within vendor guideline recommendations can result in big savings for large environments.

Bottom line

If you are a business and discounting green as simply a fad, or perhaps as a public relations (PR) initiative or activity tied to reducing carbon footprints and recycling then you are missing out on economic (top and bottom line) enhancement opportunities.

Likewise if you think that going green is only about the environment, then there is a missed opportunity to boost economic opportunities to help fund those inititiaves.

Going green means many different things to various people and is often more broad and common sense based than most realize.

That is all for now, happy earth day 2010

Cheers gs

Greg Schulz - Author The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
twitter @storageio

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More Stories By Greg Schulz

Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.

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