Feds, states reaping benefits of going green, report says

Federal IT professionals implementing energy-efficient solutions in their data centers are reporting a 1 percent or more reduction in energy costs, according to a new energy efficiency report from CDW-Government.

Although budget and other barriers still exist, more federal IT managers, like their counterparts in private industry, view cloud computing as a way to make energy-efficient IT more attainable.

In its fourth year, the "CDW-G 2012 Energy Efficiency IT Report" takes a new approach by identifying the solutions IT managers say offer the greatest return in energy efficiency. The 2012 Energy Efficient IT Report features “solution ratings maps” identifying data-center solutions that offer the greatest potential for cost reductions, as well as those that offer the greatest ease of approval and implementation.

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Online versions of CDW-G’s Solution Ease Ratings Map and Solution Savings Ratings Map give users an interactive experience that helps them identify prospective next investments in energy-efficient IT solutions for their organizations, CDW-G officials said.

“Like any other aspect of IT, energy efficiency in the data center is a multilayer stack of solutions working together, and all available solutions deserve consideration,” said Norm Lillis, vice president of systems solutions at CDW. “The combination that makes the most sense will vary with the unique environment in a data center,” Lillis said.

The report is based on a survey of 760 IT professionals across five industries in the United States in November 2011. The industries include business and nonprofit organizations; federal, state and local governments; higher education and kindergarten to 12th-grade schools.

Seventy-two percent of the 152 federal IT professionals surveyed said implementing energy-efficient solutions in their data centers provided a 1 percent or more reduction in energy costs. Forty percent of the respondents said data-center purchases in the three months before the survey were green.

The top technologies implemented were virtualized servers/storage, consolidated servers and hardware that employs newer, low-power/low-wattage processors. The technologies most likely to offer savings included new cooling approaches, increased use of hosted services and consolidated servers.

Eight-one percent of the 152 state and local IT professionals surveyed said they had reduced data-center energy costs by 1 percent or more. Thirty-percent said their data-center purchases were green. The top technologies deployed to achieve energy savings were virtualized servers/storage, consolidated servers and Energy Star-qualified devices. Technologies most likely to offer savings included new cooling approaches, consolidated servers and Energy Star-qualified devices.

Attitudes about energy-efficient data centers continue to be favorable among IT professionals in all the industries surveyed. Forty-three percent of IT professionals said green initiatives are a top driver for their data-center consolidation efforts, up from 34 percent in 2010. More than half of respondents (54 percent) have or are developing programs to manage power demand in the data center.

Of those organizations that have programs, 75 percent have reduced their IT energy costs. On average, survey respondents reported that one-third (32 percent) of their data-center purchasing in the last three months can be classified as green energy efficient, water efficient, bio-based, environmentally preferable or non-ozone depleting, according to the report.

Although favorable sentiment is growing, barriers still discourage organizations from implementing energy-efficient data-center solutions. For instance, respondents say they need information and measurement tools to help them assess energy use, potential savings and the results of their investments.

For the past three years, CDW-G’s survey has found that respondents want an objective breakdown of power and energy use within IT, a clearer set of industry standards for what constitutes energy-efficient IT, and easier identification of energy-efficient equipment. Only 8 percent of respondents find it easy to estimate energy use or savings based on the equipment specifications provided by manufacturers. 

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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