The IT department must pay more attention to IT infrastructure

The ongoing energy crisis has dramatically increased energy bills and is forcing companies to rethink their current energy consumption. The ICT department will inevitably become part of this evaluation. Historically, IT decisions are more likely to be based on costs and processes than on energy efficiency. But what has happened to our bills shows how important it is that we look at all options to reduce the cost of electricity consumption. This means we need to validate IT processes and architectures that have been used as standard for decades.

Due to the current circumstances, energy consumption and sustainability are at the top of the agenda. The availability and reliability of critical resources, cost savings, opportunities for corporate responsibility, compliance with regulations and the practice of ethical behavior are key issues in this regard. With fossil fuels at risk and the future uncertain, everyone realizes that it makes sense to protect our energy resources.

The IT sector is in an interesting position in terms of energy management and sustainability. Seeing the glass as half full, we can point to the wonderful ways automation has replaced carbon-consuming processes. We can also demonstrate how physical media have been replaced by digital options and how supply chains have become flexible and practical. In the future, we can also point to the possibilities for a profound rethinking of society and trade. Think the Internet of Things (IoT) in smart cities, smart agriculture and an Industry 4.0 model that is much cleaner than previous generations.

The IT industry has also worked to reduce the use of toxins in the manufacture of computer products and during recycling. But if we see the glass as half empty, we should certainly also recognize that data centers have become a source of carbon emissions over the years.

Data centers typically account for about two percent of US emissions. This number may not seem scary, but it comes close to it for aviation. There’s a catch here, though: the rush to live and work digitally is leading to a huge demand for computers of all kinds. The use of these IoT devices, smartwatches, smart phones, VR headsets and so on leads to a proliferation of data center construction. Researcher Anders Andrae suggests that data centers will be responsible for 33 percent of all IT electricity consumption in 2025.

This problem is exacerbated by the fact that companies have been inefficiently managing their own data centers for many years. By doing so, they provide the power capacity for peak load and a worst-case scenario for disaster recovery, backup and archiving. Even worse, too many CIOs tolerate very low hardware utilization (sometimes less than 10%). They spend as much on cooling as on power for server farms and associated network and storage equipment. From elevator-sized enterprise storage boxes to non-virtualized infrastructure and systems running while processes are idle, we’ve come to terms with an embarrassing, suboptimal operating environment. Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) scores have been measured for years, but many are lagging behind. As engineers, forward-thinkers and innovators, we are committed to looking for more efficient solutions.

A productive approach to sustainability is to evaluate the types of hardware used in data centers. It is clear that the model of old 3-tier architectures, where server, storage and network elements are physically provisioned and powered, can be wasteful. Modern hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), on the other hand, virtualizes storage, networking, and other hardware. This results in energy-saving efficiency and higher levels of automation for patching and upgrading. Better hardware utilization through a more streamlined uniform design, shared resources and an easy pay-as-you-grow expansion model delivers significant energy savings and a lower carbon footprint. Also consider the impact of software intelligence in managing capacity so you can deploy resources where and when they are needed.

A complex topic like this requires more depth than we have space for here, but I still encourage readers to consider how a modern HCI architecture could immediately improve the energy efficiency of their data centers. This move could begin the process of freeing private data centers from the consumption and costs of a 3-tier architecture. It also makes a strong statement about how IT decisions can have a positive impact on the planet. The data center is an excellent starting point for CIOs to apply their scientific knowledge. In this way, they can evaluate how modern hyperconverged infrastructure can be a means of saving costs while considering sustainability.

By: Sammy Zoghlami (photo), SVP EMEA, Nutanix

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