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‘Gimme less'

Technologies such as virtualisation and cloud computing offer efficiency using less energy..


‘Green IT' is making an impact.



Balaji Narasimhan

It is easy to quantify certain things — for instance, a marketing manager could tell you that he spent Rs 1 crore for marketing a product and got revenue of Rs 5 crore. But what would a CIO say if you tell him that the plane he is travelling on (to receive a ‘green IT' award) will add to the pollution of the environment? He could possibly say, “The plane's going anyway, so my travelling will not have any additional impact upon the environment.”

But jokes apart, green IT is having an impact, say industry watchers. And according to N Gajapathy, CEO and CIO of VG Solutions and Services, three things — managed services, cloud computing, and virtualisation — are the biggest drivers of green IT in an enterprise.

“Managed services help a company to save power because you can use it to remotely switch off and switch on power to devices. In fact, ideally, all the electrical systems in my office — printer, PC, lights and the air-conditioner — should be automatically switched on when I swipe my card at the entrance and then automatically turned off when I swipe my card on the way out in the evening,” he tells eWorld.

This brings us to the next question — if managed services is going to ensure savings, won't the advantages be minimised by cloud computing? After all, if you put a lot of things in the cloud, your own data centre footprint is going to come down drastically, leaving a lot less for managed services to operate upon.

But Gajapathy, while agreeing with this logic, points out that in spite of this there are savings because, in lieu of you, your cloud service provider will have to use managed services to reduce his costs.

And the same applies for virtualisation, feels Anil Kulkarni, IT Head - Systems & Administration, The Himalaya Drug Company. “When we went looking for SAP, we were told that it would need 16 servers, which could be reduced to just three with virtualisation,” he says. And since virtualisation delivered savings in terms of reduced floor area, the diminished complexity of maintaining fewer servers, and most importantly, from an OPEX (operational expenditure) perspective, would reduce the AC bills, going with virtualisation was a given.

And world over, many companies are doing just what Kulkarni did for Himalaya. IDC in December 2010 predicted that over 70 per cent of all server workloads installed on new shipments in 2014 will reside in a virtual machine. Shipments of virtualised servers are expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14 per cent, which will be over twice the rate of the overall server market from 2009 to 2014.

Cloud computing, however, is not so easy, feels Gajapathy. “We have all had some experience with cloud computing when we use things such as Google Docs,” says Gajapathy.

“But when you want to look at it from an enterprise perspective, you have to test and see how things work.”

IDC forecast in December 2010 that the worldwide IT spending will be $1.6 trillion in 2011, which represents an increase of 5.7 per cent over 2010. While hardware spending is expected to show a year-on-year growth of 7.8 per cent, emerging markets (which include India) are expected to generate more than half of all new IT spending worldwide in 2011.

And this means that green IT will get a boost in 2011, thanks to the growth of virtualisation and cloud computing, among other technologies.

A lot of this green benefit could be because, like our CIO boarding the plane, many CIOs are getting on the green bandwagon or are spending because they have the CAPEX (capital expenditure), but the benefits will be there for all to see, nevertheless.

What's what

Managed Services: Outsourcing of the management of IT services and applications to a third party, which is usually known as a managed services provider (MSP).

Cloud Computing: A method for ensuring that you no longer need to manage common tasks. For example, with a traditional PC-based word processor, the responsibility of creating data back-up lies with you. With a cloud-based set-up, it is the responsibility of the cloud service provider.

Virtualisation: The creation of a virtual version of something. Operating systems, hardware, network resources, etc, are some of the IT entities that are commonly virtualised. Virtualisation is used by large organisations to cut costs.

balaji.n@thehindu.co.in

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