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What's New in Green

IBM makes new strides in energy efficiency and passes along the secrets to you


 

IBM’s eco-responsible Project Big Green is making a big difference and expects to continue its path to change with several new enhancements. Project Big Green is “IBM’s effort to improve the energy efficiency of its IT infrastructure,” says Rich Lechner, vice president, IBM Systems and Technology Group, who has overall responsibility for IBM’s energy-efficiency initiatives. “It’s a broad portfolio of offerings that gives a holistic approach from the facilities level through systems and virtualization with an eye toward energy optimization.”

To date, more than 2,000 customers around the world have improved their IT energy efficiency through Project Big Green. “A number of clients have achieved measurable results,” Lechner says, “including floor-space reduction as great as 80 percent and energy reduction on an average of 40 percent, although some clients are seeing total energy reduction within the data center of 75 to 80 percent. They’re seeing the utilization of their assets—servers, storage and networking—triple, and in some cases quadruple, over the previous environment.”

New Enhancements

Project Big Green was designed to cover five major areas: diagnose, build, virtualization, liquid cooling and active energy management. Since May 2007, “we’ve made enhancements in each of those areas,” Lechner says.

In the active energy management area, IBM now offers the capability to monitor and manage not only servers, storage and networking devices, but also facilities equipment such as air conditioning, lighting systems and chillers within the data center. This area is being realized by IBM’s work with several partners such as American Power Conversion and General Electric Co.

In May, IBM announced that active energy management is being extended “beyond the data center boundaries to include other elements of the facilities such as lighting systems outside the data center area,” Lechner says. That’s an exciting development that opens up new opportunities for customers to boost energy efficiency in their facilities.

Enhancements in the build area encompass new, highly efficient servers, such as the System z10 mainframe and the POWER6 processor system with advanced virtualization capabilities.

Looking at cooling, the new generation of IBM’s rear-door heat exchangers is a stunning innovation in terms of technological development and energy savings. “The first generation extracted 60 percent of the heat generated by a rack of servers right at the source,” Lechner says. “The new generation extracts 100 percent of the heat at the source. In theory, you could deploy these servers with no need for air conditioning.” Eliminating the requirement for air conditioning would yield a substantial cost savings for many companies.

Other innovations include advances in IBM’s storage and server virtualization offerings. Additionally, the company recently introduced WebSphere Virtual Enterprise, which expands virtualization into the application area, improving the its efficiency in terms of energy use. “We’re enhancing the portfolio in every dimension,” Lechner says.

 

Shirley S. Savage is a Maine-based freelance writer. Shirley can be reached at savage.shirley@comcast.net.


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