Modeling a "Green IT" Environment


Tariq Kazi

Senior Design Project

Washington University, Saint Louis

 

Project Supervisor:

Chris Bradburn

Technical Architect, Monsanto Company


Abstract:

The goal of this project is to help “Company X” reduce its carbon footprint that is generated due to its huge IT department and as a result reduce its expenses in the long run. In order to achieve this goal, we must first analyze our current environment. Since some research has already been done, one of the requirements is to validate the results of this research through analysis and support the upcoming changes through logic and numbers. Identifying the areas of maximum impact is an important goal of this project. The ultimate goal is to help the architects in the company to show the management that a change is required and that this change is cost justified. Being able to convincingly show that an initial investment will result in a profit in the near future is the key. Going Green is now trendy and prestigious but can it also be profitable?

 

Areas of Maximum Impact:

Advanced Sever Virtualization

Virtualization of servers is the concept of buying one huge server (host), and then being able to host multiple guests on it, each of which acts as a virtual server.

VMWare’s ESX Servers are designed to enable a single server to run multiple guest operating systems simultaneously.

The biggest limitation of physical servers is that once the hardware is bought, each machine acts as a single server and allows for only one operating system. This is the biggest cause for underutilization of the machines. For example, if our company bought 100 Dell PowerEdge 2950 servers, statistically, there is a good chance that only 9 of them will be utilized to above 75 % of their capacity and only 42 of them will be utilized to above 50 % of their capacity. This underutilization can be done away with if we virtualize our servers. This is because the host can be partitioned with precise control and this allows for maximum utilization.

CRT versus LCD Monitors

 

Reports:

Many different reports were run but the interesting reports were the ones that were non-intuitive as well as high impact on the monetary end.

One report showed that replacing all desktops and laptops (~24,000) with energy saver models from the same vendor will help us save ~$500,000 over a period of 3 years in energy costs. This is a high impact change as we are offsetting a lot of the pollution by investing money in high end equipment that runs more efficiently. The following image shows the final stage of the report as an excel file:

Another report showed that if we did plan to start replacing PowerEdge 2950 servers with PowerEdge R905 servers, then we can save enough money to buy the hardware required by merely cutting our support on the new PowerEdge 2950s and buying 3 year support instead of 5 year support. The report shows that saving on 23 servers will enable us to buy a new host. This host will then help us save ~$31,000 over a period of two years in energy costs alone. Plus we will save on hardware as we will not need to buy about 20 servers that we normally would. That is ~$80,000 annually for three years. The following is an image of that report:

Conclusions:

From the above two reports, it is clear that server virtualization as well as switching from regular models of computers to energy saver models can make a huge difference in energy consumption and save the company a lot of money as well as earn it a Green status. These changes are easy to make because new laptops and desktops are ordered annually and old ones are cycled out and similarly after the support on servers is expired, the hardware must be gotten rid off and new servers must be bought. With some planning, energy saver models can be ordered and instead of replacing physical servers with new ones, we can just buy a new host. These are just two of the specific reports that were generated for specific meetings and to satisfy the minimum requirements that were put forth by the architects.

The other requirements were an analysis on the current situation of servers as well as computers and this requirement has been fulfilled through the now updated data tables that reveal a lot more information than the raw data did in the beginning stages. Finally, the surveys were conducted as planned and the results show that most of the company (90%) has already switched from CRT monitors to LCD monitors and trying to switch over the remaining 10% monitors that are scattered over a large area will be a difficult job and may cost us more in effort than we’d like to spend. Instead we should focus our efforts in areas that offer a higher prospect in terms of saving energy and money. Similarly, since 85% of people shut down their computers before leaving, pushing hibernation is not as appealing to the architects as it seemed before the surveys were conducted.