Save IT. Save the Planet.

Efficient IT. It can address multiple pressing needs. But it requires a different way of thinking. You don’t have to be an environmentalist to realize your self-interest in a healthy environment. You don’t have to be a conservationist to know that conserving energy also conserves cash. Along with global warming, these have become politically charged topics. However, in terms of IT, there are some very practical ways to view them as means to improve efficiency and help manage your budget.

6528333519_c918e03a8bStart with energy. IT uses lots of it. Sufficient supplies can be a problem. Cost can go up. (Utilities in New England are predicting 29% -50% electricity price increases for 2015. Political uncertainties in the EU continue to impact price volatility.) If payment comes from a separate facilities budget, the IT department may have no idea of the cost and minimal direct incentive to control it. But they can.

IT energy consumption is in part a symptom, one outcome of frenetic growth and inefficient, even wasteful patterns. Patterns that we know how to improve and perfect. Like harmful environmental habits, some IT practices have gotten out of hand. But we’re seeing our customers fix them. Systematically.

The philosophy is deceptively simple: consolidate, optimize, automate. Not that the concepts are new, but some of the techniques and technologies are. This is about way more than energy supply or cost. It’s about recognizing and then overcoming impediments to growth. It’s about taking a holistic view of IT challenges and environmental objectives and then using that view to satisfy core business requirements – to find competitive advantage.

Consider server virtualization. After getting past skeptics, virtualized servers have spectacularly demonstrated cloud-friendly efficiencies that range from faster provisioning to hardware reductions, to better uptime, disaster recovery and smaller data centers with energy efficiencies as a very compelling bonus.

Remember, we started this discussion around budgets. One customer told of their early virtualization success, taking 1250 physical servers down to 250. They saved over $4MM, avoided expanding the data center and cut related energy by 70%. So, they immediately understood the potential efficiency impacts that Actifio could bring to their storage and backup infrastructure.

Like so many others, the response to rapid growth had created a disparate storage infrastructure, overburdened and expanding out of control. They had no idea how many copies existed in multiple backup systems. No clear cost estimate for redundant replication licenses. They had multiple tape, dedupe, testing and application development systems – all uncoordinated and expensive. Call it technology soup.

So, data virtualization held promise to replicate their server virtualization success. The move to data virtualization delivered clear financial and operational benefits that increased over time. Old assets were decommissioned or repurposed. Purchase of new storage systems stopped (except for some Flash arrays for the start of a long-term upgrade plan). Remaining production storage was effectively utilized for production purposes instead of data copies. Every category of data management became simpler. They reduced the number of copies from 100+ to a very manageable 10. Demands for energy dropped steeply. So did energy costs – projected to be roughly a third lower over three years.

This was not an energy reduction project. It was an IT efficiency conversion. Their results provided a simple global solution for backup, dedup, DR, BC, test-dev analytics and compliance. The clutter cleared and business agility increased. Operations were simplified. They project annual TCO reductions of nearly $600K over four years.

They’ll also save a mountain of energy. No tree-hugging required.

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Photo Credit: Antonio Faria 70cc