IT efficiency cascades through the datacenter

I took part in this webcast with TSO Logic in December 2013. The webcast looked at the importance of IT energy efficiency to lowering datacenter operating and capital costs. 451 Research gave an overview of some of the main themes and trends in this area before TSO Logic gave a detailed account of how its software can be used to identify and eliminate under-utilised servers, and power manage IT equipment.

Latest report: IT Energy efficiency firms to benefit from federal datacenter squeeze

Our latest The 451 Group report on energy management start-up Joulex looks at how the company might benefit from the US Federal government’s datacenter consolidation plans. Consolidation is obviously about shutting down surplus resources – from individual devices to entire datacenters – but before you can start that process, and realize the savings, you need to know what you have to begin with.

Unfortunately, individual agencies appear to be struggling with that initial work. Asset management tools exist to help with this process but these systems need to be filled with information before they can be of any use That takes time and resources. JouleX, and Triton, believe their technology can help with this initial asset discovery process, as well as with long term energy efficiency monitoring and control.

However, they are far from being the only game in town and all the other major IT consultants will be hoping to grab a slice of the ongoing consolidation work.

JouleX alliance aims to benefit from federal datacenter squeeze

Energy management startup JouleX and sustainability consultant Triton Federal Solutions announced a partnership in the third quarter of 2011. Triton is acting as a reseller for the JouleX Energy Manager (JEM) products, and the partnership could help JouleX generate sales of its technology to US government agencies. The government plans to consolidate up to 800 of its 2,000 datacenters and improve the efficiency of the remainder. Savings could be up to $23.71bn per year. However, new efficient technologies will be required to identify assets for consolidation and optimize the remaining sites. Securing a slice of this effort could be lucrative for JouleX and Triton.

The 451 Group subscribers can access the report @ The 451 Non-subscribers can get apply for access here.

Latest Report: Dell certifies servers, storage and networking for hotter datacenters

Latest report for The 451 Group which examines how Dell and other suppliers are updating their kit and warranties to allow them to be operated at higher temperatures.

In the third quarter of 2011, Dell announced that it had updated the warranties of some of its existing datacenter IT equipment to cover it for operation at higher temperatures and humidity. These newly certified devices are collectively known as the Dell Fresh Air Cooling range. The equipment will only be covered at the new higher temperatures for limited periods of time, but Dell says this is sufficient for most use cases. The Fresh Air range is designed to help companies cut datacenter operating costs by reducing their use of mechanical chillers.

The 451 Group subscribers can access the report @ The 451 Non-subscribers can get apply for access here.

Pulling in the media favours on my first analyst report

Thanks to Silicon, BusinessGreen and eWEEK Europe UK for the coverage of my first Long Form analyst report for The 451 Group. CIOs Turned off By Power Management

IT departments are resisting the rollout of PC power-management technology as they believe the downtime and productivity losses associated with implementing it are too great a risk.

And this opposition is likely to remain until IT can directly benefit from the cost savings that greater energy efficiency can generate, according to analyst house The 451 Group.

Power-management software allows desktop computers to be turned off remotely to ensure they aren’t drawing power when not in use. This means PCs aren’t left on overnight or when people don’t come into work, significantly reducing energy costs and carbon emissions.

For more go to Corporations Turn On TO PC Turn Off

The global market for PC power management technologies will continue to expand “at a pretty rapid rate”, according to a major new report confirming that the energy savings delivered by automated PC turn-off technologies can deliver a return on investment in less than six months for many organisations.

The study from IT industry analysts The 451 Group, entitled PC Power Management – Measuring, Monitoring and Managing Client Energy Consumption, concluded that despite the rapid expansion of the PC power management market in recent years the technology has still achieved market penetration of just 20 per cent, leaving plenty of room for expansion.

For more go to

Thanks to eWEEK Europe UK for the coverage too – site seems to be down though so can’t put the links in yet.




From N-Plus One: Why Energy Should Be On IT’s Radar

IT is a pretty dynamic sector to work in but it’s easy to get wrapped up in the goings-on within the industry and forget that outside factors also play a significant role. Energy costs are a good example and are becoming an increasingly strategic issue for the IT industry, especially large users such as datacenter owners and operators.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a recent event in Budapest, my home-town, at the Central European University (an institution established by international financier George Soros). The event was a talk by the chief economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Fatih Birol who was on hand to provide some perspectives on factors shaping global energy markets.

For more go to: N Plus One

Why Data Centre Owners Want Carbon Laws Terminated

From eWEEK Europe UK:

In the dog days of summer you might, like me, find yourself with a bit more time on your hands than usual. Given the standard of the average British summer, spending all of it frolicking in the great outdoors isn’t always an option. Sitting down to watch a few sci-fi classics is one alternative – albeit a geeky one. But beware, rather than escapism, some of these films have a way of focusing the mind on real-world issues in an unexpected way.

In the dystopian imaginings of two of my favourite films, The Terminator and Blade Runner, irresponsible application of technology is to blame for ravaged landscapes and a distinct lack of anything warm and furry, or green and leafy for that matter. So rather than being immersed in cyborgs, guns and high-octane action, I found myself musing on the relationship between tech and the environment.

Avatar: Tech vs Environment

High-tech and the natural world just don’t mix, seems to be the message of a lot of sci-fi. In a head to head contest one is going to come off worse and, usually, it’s the green stuff that suffers. Most recently Avatar demonstrated this violent opposition of technology and natural habitat with primitive people defending their forest home from a tech-dependent human army. One of the key parts of the film involves a sacred tree being torched in the name of progress – a crude metaphor maybe but an effective one.

The irony of the environmental message at the heart of Avatar and the warnings of techno-meddling from films such as The Terminator, is that the films themselves are the product of technological advancements. Avatar is seen as the bleeding edge of 3D technology, with the TV industry pinning its hopes on the movie to drive the next wave of upgrades. Environmental groups have already pointed out the inherent contradiction that a film with an environmental message may potentially spark a tech-refresh with all its e-waste generating implications.

The relationship between technology and environmental sustainability is obviously more nuanced than popular culture would have us believe. The massive green elephant in the room is the whole rise of so-called clean technology and renewable energy – from wind turbines to hydrogen fuel cells – which are all dependent on new and innovative technology. Overhauling power grids and the way consumers monitor their energy use will save huge amounts of carbon. But this application of so-called smart meters and grids isn’t possible without upgrading existing infrastructure and rolling-out new technology. Counter-intuitively, to lessen the impact of tech on the environment we have to build more of it.

But another aspect to the complex relationship between the environment and technological progress is that technology – specifically IT – has the potential to not only become more sustainable through refinement but actually lessen the impact of other man-made activities. A power-efficient data centre which utilises renewable energy, such as the Other World Computing (OWC) facility in Woodstock Illinois, is not only inherently sustainable but the tools it could provide – email, web collaboration and video conferencing – replace the need for more carbon intensive activities such as air-travel.

For more go to eWEEK Europe UK

It’s Time For Sun, Sea And… Smart Meters

So the government has finally decided to put some meat on the bones of its smart meter plans.

The long awaited Smart Metering Implementation Programme Prospectus was released this week in the last proper splurge of business before the dog days of summer. Not much of a fanfare then for what the government admits will be one of the biggest public sector tech projects of recent times.

But then any news is good news right now with the silly season looming – another week and the tech press will be awash with the usual summer space fillers of “How to stay connected to the office while on vacation” or “Top tech books to take to the beach”. While it might be exciting to engage the conspiracy synapses and imagine government spin-doctors trying to bury some Machiavellian smart meter sub-plot – the truth is probably just that this much material takes time to accumulate.

And what a pile there is. Never mind summer reading, anyone interested in how the government intends to pull-off this feat will be eschewing Stephen King and Dean Koontz in favour of Chris Huhn. The smart meter prospectus might not be exactly beach reading material but some aspects of it seem every bit as fanciful as a bestseller.

A Fantasy Bestseller?

The most obvious example of this is the new timetable the government has set. The EU electricity and gas directives behind the UK’s smart meter push mandate 2020 as the date for the deployment. That might still be nearly ten years away but even that seemed ambitious given the small fact that the country is broke and most other large-scale public sector tech projects have been mothballed or scrapped as the coalition furiously bails out our collective life-boat. The rash of tech quangos that have been nuked in the last few weeks, together with high-profile cuts such as ID Cards and Microsoft losing its lucrative NHS deal, show exactly how much cash and good will there is available for tech projects in Whitehall right now.

Despite some pre-election stories about cosying up to Google, the coalition government has not exactly endeared itself to the tech industry so far. Even the hip games industry’s attempts to get a tax break were shot to pieces, Call-Of-Duty-style, by George Osbourne.

For more go to eWEEK Europe UK

Zen And The Green Art Of PC Maintenance

How much is enough?

From eWEEK Europe UK:

In an earlier column, I publicly named and shamed myself for my rampant addiction to shiny new kit.

This guilt over tech consumerism had been boiling under for a while but the iPhone 4 launch proved to be the gadget which gave the camel a nasty case of lumbago. No more being sucked in by the Jobs distortion field I told myself. From now on new tech will only be purchased to replace devices that have gone to the great tech museum in the sky.

Given all the furore around the iPhone’s antenna issues, the decision to out myself turned out to be a pretty good one. Being an early adopter is always a risky strategy given the penchant of Apple and others to beta test their new kit on the live market.

So I am feeling rather smug and sustainable at the moment knowing I dodged the antenna bullet, saved some cash and avoided consigning another bit of kit to the waste-stream (albeit with a short stop-over in my bottom drawer).

Dodging The iPhone 4 Bullet

But there is a but. Even knowing all about the antenna issues and Apple’s potentially duplicitous behaviour is shipping the iPhone 4 with a fault in the first place – I still want one. The desire for shiny new – precious – things is hard-wired I suppose, and eventually I will succumb. But I am adamant that won’t be till my existing iPhone 3GS is beyond repair. So in a strategy which I guess is tech addiction’s equivalent of a nicotine patch, I bought myself a shiny new case for the old model and also downloaded Apple’ latest iPhone OS update. Hey presto – a new iPhone or something very close to it. The outside looks different and so does the software.

This tactic of modification rather than upgrading could be seen as the IT equivalent of the car body-kits and silly transfers that teenage boy-racers are so keen on. Slapping a new spoiler on your Nissan Micra is not as satisfying as owning a new Golf GTi but it helps to satiate the upgrade demons.  Moreover, improving or modifying existing kit might sound like a pointless diversion but it is actually closely allied to a more fundamental approach to electronics, domestic appliances, and even cars – repairing and reusing them for as long as possible.

For more go to: eWEEK Europe UK

Time To Kill Off ‘Green IT’?

(From eWEEK Europe UK)

The sooner that the whole concept of “green” IT is abandoned altogether the better.

That might sound a tad odd considering this column is meant to explore developments in sustainable computing but I think that continuing to talk about a separate category of “green technology” is the one sure way to retard its development.

Unfortunately, sustainability is still seen as a marketing edge by device makers and service providers and will probably continue to be so until legislation and consumer preference erases the alternatives.

It appears that consumers still very much view “eco” or “green” alternatives as a separate product category – and are wary of them as a result.

Rather than being a more complete or sustainable offering, some consumers actually see green products as somehow substandard, according to the results of a new report. UK sustainability organisation WRAP questioned consumers on their attitudes to a variety of electronic goods ranging from the solar-powered Samsung Blue Earth Mobile to the Electrolux Green vacuum cleaner. While some of the results were encouraging and the environmental value of green design was recognised, there was also a fair amount of scepticism.

Cautious About Green

On the whole, respondents still viewed “green” as something novel and distinct and admitted to being “cautious” about buying such products.

For more go to: eWEEK Europe UK

eWEEK Europe UK: The Future Of Green IT Is The Hardware-Free Business

Last week, I wrote about how a rising tide of eco-guilt has finally driven me to stop buying new hardware.

Tired of being whipped into a consumer frenzy by another messianic performance by Steve Jobs, I have now committed to stop buying any new kit unless it’s replacing something broken. I have almost any scenario covered tech-wise and there is really no excuse to buy any more until natural wear and tear dictates otherwise.

Of course there are machinations of tech companies to contend with, such as the expiring support for Windows XP, but I am pretty sure I can port my netbook to Linux when the time comes. Actually, I should have done it before now but, infuriatingly, it still pays to have access to a Windows machines for those proprietary apps that will run on nothing else (which included the CMS behind this website until very recently).

Making the pledge to “sweat my assets”, as it’s known in environmental circles, got me thinking about whether the plan would scale-up for a business. As a freelance journalist, I am a one-man business and I have no real concerns at this stage that the hardware ban will massively affect my own productivity. However I reckon that the idea of a complete hold on new kit wouldn’t go down well at, say, a global enterprise.

But then again, IT budgets have been pretty tight over the last two years as management juggles with the impact of the financial crisis. Sure, there has been less business to do and therefore potentially less need for sophisticated new platforms to cope with it, but I wonder whether this make-do and mend attitude to IT spending has really affected productivity? What would happen for instance if a company did make a similar commitment to no new hardware for, say, a year. Would it really make a massive difference to its performance? I am betting it wouldn’t.

Sweating Assets

Environmental and tech experts, including some from the UK government, agree that we should be using kit for longer. Last year, Cabinet Office deputy champion for green ICT Catalina McGregor, said that government departments should get tough on sweating their IT assets and hang on to kit longer.  “It is going to be uncomfortable when it first comes and I think there is going to be a lot of raised eyebrows but certain areas really needed to be sweated, sometimes for up to 10 years, and you are going to be shocked,” she told an audience of IT managers at last years Green IT conference.

For more go to: eWEEK Europe UK