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Power The Almighty Buck IT

IT Vs. the Permanent Energy Crisis 285

Posted by timothy
from the damn-fusion-scientists-are-late-again dept.
snydeq writes "Organizations looking to remain profitable in the face of escalating energy costs may lean even harder on IT to achieve energy efficiencies in the years to come, InfoWorld reports. But instead of limiting IT's efficiency role to the datacenter, companies will tap IT's vast knowledge of company networks, equipment, and work processes to uncover efficiencies across the organization, in some cases tipping facilities management into IT. 'There is a lot IT can do to fix its own 2 percent [of the company's carbon emissions] and make it more efficient, but the big opportunity for IT is to take a leadership role in tackling that other 98 percent across the business,' says one analyst. And by taking charge of the organization's energy strategy now, IT will be in prime position to alter its relationship with management and reap benefits in the boardroom in the years ahead, analysts contend."
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IT Vs. the Permanent Energy Crisis

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  • My solution (Score:5, Funny)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:45PM (#24936585) Journal

    Go back to the abacus. Computers are overrated. Penthouse can take over the only other computer function.

    • by Dr Caleb (121505)

      Penthouse . . .and a deck of cards.

    • Re:My solution (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @03:26PM (#24937111) Journal

      Go back to the abacus. Computers are overrated. Penthouse can take over the only other computer function.

      Actually, I remember seeing a documentary showing kids in Asian countries learning how to perform calculations using an abacus. They become lightening fast with it, some even able to do calculations 'in their heads' using an imaginary abacus. It helps them to visualize numbers and visualize the processes of arithmetic.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by foobsr (693224)
        It helps them to visualize numbers and visualize the processes of arithmetic.

        Probably an education emphasizing the use of wetware a little more would lead to the creation of more visionaries in the 'Westen World'. Yes, I know, old stuff (Computer Power and Human Reason by Joseph Weizenbaum, 1976).

        CC.
        • It helps them to visualize numbers and visualize the processes of arithmetic. Probably an education emphasizing the use of wetware a little more would lead to the creation of more visionaries in the 'Westen World'. Yes, I know, old stuff (Computer Power and Human Reason by Joseph Weizenbaum, 1976). CC.

          Not so much. Take young Gauss. Instead of using crazy number crunching skills to add all the integers between 1 and 100, he visualized doubling and reversing the list, noticing that this equals 100(101), coming up with the formula n(n+1)/2 for finding integer sums.

          So which has more vision? Crunching numbers, or finding an ingenius shortcut? Seriously, who would have thought of that? Certainly not somebody whose greatest skill was with the abacus. In fact, his daughter famously said that he could only count

      • by patio11 (857072)

        Here in Japan (which is only an Asian country when it wants to be and, most of the time, it doesn't), they teach kids to do mathematics by visualizing a calculator. Its only in Asian-all-the-time-countries like Thailand where you're too poor to afford a good imaginary calculator that you need to revert to the old imaginary abacus.

        And if you think Japan is advanced, I hear eight year olds in the US are starting to do imaginary Google searches on their imaginary Wikipedia... creating the fastest lookup of wo

    • by Simonetta (207550) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:45PM (#24938991)

      Just exactly is information technology energy inefficient?

      Is it through the use of thousands of PCs in a large corporation each using 400+ watts of power (PC and CRT combined)? Switch to laptops and large screen LCD monitors.

      Is it because the output of the IT department isn't doing enough to reduce the overall company energy bill? Well, yes, the purpose of the IT department is to look for ways to reduce bottlenecks in the production process. Which means that it looks for ways to speed up production, which means using more energy.

      Maybe they're trying to say that the IT department is using too much energy driving to work and they should just all stay home and work in their pajamas from their kitchen tables. Hell, maybe the IT department simply drinks too much coffee.

      Sure they can order the IT department to tweak and focus and get their energy consumption down. After a whole year, the IT department just might save enough energy to match one trip in the corporate jet carrying a couple executives across the continent for the purpose of getting drunk with another couple of executives from another company. Nothing like real 'face time' when you need to close the big deal.

      Let's face it. Everything that American management says is basically full of shit. Sometimes they actually know it and must say it anyway. Usually they don't. For that matter, much management statements from any country are BS. But the Americans are the world-masters at total corporate double-think and nonsense.

      Dilbertize them and ignore them. In twenty years the smart managers will be still around and the vast majority of dumb ones will be most likely be dead. Simply because they don't know what to do to keep themselves alive and no one's going to go out of their way to see that they survive. You should survive, though. And don't be concerned about being green.
      You can't be lean, mean, serene, and green all at the same time.

      • by sumdumass (711423) on Wednesday September 10, 2008 @03:42PM (#24952045) Journal

        Sure they can order the IT department to tweak and focus and get their energy consumption down. After a whole year, the IT department just might save enough energy to match one trip in the corporate jet carrying a couple executives across the continent for the purpose of getting drunk with another couple of executives from another company. Nothing like real 'face time' when you need to close the big deal.

        I doubt they would save that much energy as it translates to costs. Your right on about everything else but let me tell you about some "energy" conservation issues I recently came accross.

        I have a company I administer that was recently told that their electric bills were so high because of the 35 workstation computers and 5 servers they are using. They were told to get something more energy efficient and that would solve their utility bill woes. So I was instructed to purchase 35 new workstations and see if I couldn't consolidate the servers. We rotate half of the computers out every 2 years with the oldest one being about 3 years old at that time. Well, replacing all the workstations at once costs us roughly $30,000. Then you have to figure the 15 to 20 man hours configuring them for the domain, stripping the BS that came with them to lower the price out and adding all the company specific software to them (including the office programs and so on). In the end, I think the bill totaled around $38,000 (including new LCD monitors). They financed that at something like 5% for 3 years because it already blew our IT budget. The net savings in the energy bills were less then 1% of the total energy being used throughout the entire building. It lowered the bill by around $50 per month. Now granted we would have probably spent around $12000 or so of that in the next year for upgrades anyways and finally in the third year of the loan, we would have repeated it, but we wouldn't have been paying interest on it or anything like that. So for a $50 a month savings, or roughly $600 a year in energy use, they spent $38,000 and will end up paying roughly $3000 in interest over 3 years in which the interest alone is about $390 more per year then anything they saved.

        At another site, we had this enterprising young go getter who thought he would save some energy by opening the windows and turning the AC off now that it is getting cooler and more comfortable outside. What he didn't plan on is that the server room is a sealed box with no windows and the AC unit specifically for it was the first one he turned off. I started getting calls that things were running slow at about 10 am the next day. This is a small site with only about 20 users locally and around 20 who remote in from either home or satellite offices. After logging in remotely to check out what was going on and finding nothing obvious, I decided to head down and take a look. I was met in the parking lot by a couple of fire engines with lights and sirens going as they pulled in. No, nothing caught on fire but something in the servers was over heating bad and when they opened the door to the server room, they said it felt like it was 200 degrees F in there and the digital thermometer on the AC unit was pegged and reading --- so they assumed it (or something) was on fire. Well, we have a halon suppression system and a couple of Co2 extinguishers and I had to fight with the fire department not to use water and let me open the cases of the servers (which were pretty hot). Then I noticed that the stand alone AC unit was turned off. We use 5 servers in there for normal stuff and two for sans with 3 that do nothing but duplicate everything. There is the one workstation (which was locked up or frozen by the time I got to it). Each of the servers have a raid controller with at least 5 hot swappable SCSI drives and some have as many as 20 if that gives you an idea of how much heat is generated from the electricity used by these things.

        Anyways, the fire department used a thermal camera and found hot spots in the walls a

  • IT Wins? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:47PM (#24936605) Homepage Journal

    "IT will be in prime position to alter its relationship with management and reap benefits in the boardroom in the years ahead, analysts contend."

    Ahh, more responsibility, additional liability, same pay scale.

    • Re:IT Wins? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by EvilIntelligence (1339913) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:51PM (#24936669)
      I agree. This will be just another way for executives to tell IT to do "more with less", or sometimes "everything with nothing". It's bad enough that people want IT to stuff 100gb of data into 10gb of storage, but now you have to do it eco-friendly, too. The problem is that getting more eco-friendly means changing out some fundamental infrastructure, such as the air conditioning to keep the server room cool. How do you get rid of that? Buy a big block of dry ice and run a fan over it? Or do you get an air conditioner that runs on... what, wind power? Hydrogen? Fine, but that will cost some investment in research, which companies will NOT do.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Or, you could just shut your computer off after you leave.

        No, really.
        • Re:IT Wins? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @03:54PM (#24937529) Homepage

          That is your great idea ? That accounts for less than a thousanth of a percent of energy usage.

          We actually *use* energy you know. That's not to say we can't use it more efficiently, but stopping any of the really energy intensive processes in civilization is a non-starter.

          Think about heating, you can do with slightly less, but not much. Everything above 50-55 degrees north would be utterly unliveable. Most of Europe would have to be abandoned.

          Think about transportation, again a *little* less should be liveable. Any real reduction is totally out of the question. Cities 1% of the size of anything remotely resembling a metropolis would be out of the question, for way, WAY too expensive to maintain.

          And of course the real energy sponges : The human body is about 6% efficient (energy intake vs energy expenditure), and eats either plants (themselves 2% efficient) but also has to eat meat (eating only meat gets us to about 8-9% efficiency) (and cows are some 12% efficient, eating 2% efficient plants). This is a very, very generous amount of efficiency to give the human body since it counts human body heat as work, and most factory floor supervisors will disagree with that being "useful labour" however if you take it out, even a tenth of a percent would barely be attainable for a human body)

          Let's say you're a normal person. You eat 100 grams of meat for 900 grams of vegetables you eat. That means you're 90% * 6% * 2% + 10% * 8% * 12% * 2% efficient.

          That means that all the energy you expend, running (200-300 watts), thinking (150-200 kcal/day), keeping your body at 37degrees, which feeds most of your cell processes (2200-3500 kilocalories per day) is 0.10992% efficient.

          Suddenly that SUV that is about 12% efficient at 16 miles per gallon doesn't seem at all wasteful anymore. If you could somehow digest oil, you wouldn't be able to run half that distance, and certainly not with 500 kg of load on your back.

          And the worst part of the human body. The total amount of human bodies in the world grows at 1.6% per year.

          Energy conservation, making stuff more efficient is something we can do *once* and we can't make the human body any more efficient at all, we can only replace it. For everything else there are fundamental limits we cannot cross, any really big differences are either already caught, or will be caught the first time we try to fix things (ie. they've been caught in the last 4-5 years). We're not going to save much beyond that first drive.

          Say the wet dream of every environmentalist comes true. God descends from heaven and says that all cars drive on electricity at 90% efficiency from now on. Great ! He's just saved us about 60% on the current energy cost of transportation. That will provide for "normal" economical growth without growing energy levels for ... 10 years. There can be only one reasonable conclusion : we need *more* energy. Not less.

          Conservation is hopeless. We need new energy sources (and nuclear will do very nicely thank you), and after that we need nuclear fusion, and move part of the species into space.

          Btw, in case anybody likes to think "nature is so much better" well no, nature is actually worse, as in less efficient than civilization, in energy usage (incidentially that is why there is so very much oxygen, a (relatively) unstable chemical in the athmosphere in the first place, and so very, very little co2 (without nature, the "natural" state of the athmosphere would be to be so filled with co2 that humans (or animals for that matter) wouldn't be able to breathe).

      • Re:IT Wins? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Smidge204 (605297) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:58PM (#24936779) Journal

        Nono, Dry ice is CO2. You have any idea how bad your carbon footprint will look if you use that?

        Here's one idea: Upgrade the server room AC to use heat pumps that can put the heat back into the building where it's needed.

        Another idea: Upgrade lighting and switching. Do all of the lights need to be on all of the time? Probably not. Add more switches to light only the parts of the room that need it, and occupancy sensors to make sure they're turned off when everyone leaves.
        =Smidge=

        • Re:IT Wins? (Score:5, Funny)

          by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @03:31PM (#24937195)
          great, now I'll need to flap my arms every 5 minutes in my office.
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            great, now I'll need to flap my arms every 5 minutes in my office.

            Lucky you! I had to get up and walk over to the door or throw my trashcan at the sensor. Now the sensor's covered and at night I just turn on a lamp. I never wanted those stupid things on during the day anyway, so I'm saving power. Stupid "green" building.

            • Re:IT Wins? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by R2.0 (532027) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @03:56PM (#24937555)

              Both you and the PP bring up very good points - energy saving design won't do a damned thing if the building occupants can override them.

              I'm a project manager for a Very Large Non Profit, and I build buildings ("Hi, Project Manager"). The absolute, positive biggest challenge I face isn't the contractors, or suppliers, or the local government - it's the end users (IT included) that simply CANNOT accept when they don't get things their way. I've had entire departments threaten not to move in because their space was laid out the way the *previous* director wanted it. I've had VP's in a tizzy over the fact that they had to tell their people they could not bring their fans, space heaters, and coffee makers to the new buildings and plug them into their cubicles.

              As for building controls, it doesn't matter if you have a system set on a timer or occupancy - someone, at some point, will override those controls based on a request from higher, and they will stay that way. Openable windows? They will STAY open, regardless of the temperature outside. Natural light? It's too bright for Ms Delicate Skin - buy some blinds.

              Energy conservation is about People Control, not Building Controls.

              • Re:IT Wins? (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Vellmont (569020) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @04:24PM (#24937871) Homepage


                  I've had entire departments threaten not to move in because their space was laid out the way the *previous* director wanted it. I've had VP's in a tizzy over the fact that they had to tell their people they could not bring their fans, space heaters, and coffee makers to the new buildings and plug them into their cubicles.

                You mean people are sensitive to an environment they spend 8 hours a day in, and don't want to accept what you've given them without talking about it? Do you really find that all so surprising? I'd find it odd if people weren't sensitive about those kind of things.

                Energy conservation is about People Control, not Building Controls.

                Nonsense. Energy conservation is largely about economics. You've got the wrong mentality entirely. If it's really too expensive to drive the gas-guzzling SUV to work every day, the SUV will get ditched fairly soon. The only reason you've got this fight between "the controls" and "the people" is the people aren't paying the energy bill directly.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                The absolute, positive biggest challenge I face isn't the contractors, or suppliers, or the local government - it's the end users (IT included) that simply CANNOT accept when they don't get things their way.

                Too bad you don't get your way - try working in a screwed up place where the lights shut off whenever the sensor thinks nobody's there - sort of distracting.

                I've had VP's in a tizzy over the fact that they had to tell their people they could not bring their fans, space heaters, and coffee makers to the new buildings and plug them into their cubicles.

                So add a coffee maker spot in the kitchen and fix the AC - space heaters are a symptom of a bigger problem.

                Openable windows? They will STAY open

                Damn straight. I like my fresh air.

          • by lawaetf1 (613291)

            That's what the drinking bird on top of your monitor is for.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by R2.0 (532027)

          "Here's one idea: Upgrade the server room AC to use heat pumps that can put the heat back into the building where it's needed."

          Sigh. Do you even know what a heat pump is?

          ALL cooling units are basically "heat pumps" - taking heat from one place and rejecting it to another. So, you are suggesting that the heat pumped away from the server rooms be pumped back into the building for heating. No problem with existing equipment - a lot of it is water cooled.

          But wait.

          Most office type buildings require cooling al

          • Re:IT Wins? (Score:4, Informative)

            by Smidge204 (605297) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @04:49PM (#24938221) Journal

            No, I *don't* know what a heat pump is. I just size and specify them for commercial projects. Maybe you need to be a little less pedantic and understand that, outside of college, there is a practical difference between a "heat pump" and a "straight cool" DX* system.

            Specifically, a "Heat Pump" is a device that is designed to be reversible through control settings, as opposed to a "straight cool" unit which, while it might be PHYSICALLY reversed, is not designed to be.

            Heat pumps are also designed and rated to operate under different conditions. For example, your window AC unit is not likely designed to operate with an indoor ("evaporator") temp below about 50F and the outdoor ("condenser") temp below about 80F. A heat pump will be designed to operate comfortably at LEAST to an evaporator temp of 10F (most modern units are good enough to handle 0F).

            So yeah, thermodynamically they're the same but mechanically... not so much.

            Also, you're an idiot if you think that:

            1) It hasn't been done before. Daikin's 3-pipe "Heat Recovery" system is one example I have a lot of experience with. One outdoor condenser can operate multiple indoor fancoil units in a mix of heating and cooling modes simultaneously, using the reject heat from the cooling units as a source for the heating units with the balance of the heat/cool load handled by the outdoor coil. (I'm not a rep or otherwise affiliated with Daikin, BTW)

            2) All building heat is water, which you seem to imply by jumping directly into water temps. Hot air heating is very popular and very economical. Though hydronic heating certainly has its advantages you are unlikely to encounter any in low-rise, finely divided spaces like office buildings or large open-plan spaces like cube farms or warehouses. It's all forced air.**

            3) That a heat pump system can't or won't produce water at over 130F. Obviously we try to avoid that in cooling applications because it reduces efficiency (and with cooling towers promotes bacteria growth) but it'll happen if you set it up that way.

            I'd also like to know where you live that boilers run 140F to 120F. Around here where it actually gets cold we run 180F to 160F standard. Modern cast iron boilers can handle 30F dT (180 to 150) for better efficiency, and condensing steel boilers can easily handle return temps as low as 100F.

            =Smidge=
            * That's "DX" as in "Direct eXpansion" - another industry term you're likely to encounter. Opposed to "water-source heat pump" or "water-cooled condenser."

            ** Radiant heat flooring is, of course, a notable exception... And very nice if you're willing to pay for it. Only practical in new construction for obvious reasons.

      • by g0bshiTe (596213)
        A simpler solution would be to migrate all IT power needs to Solar.
      • Perhaps you realise that heat is not a waste product.

        We actually pay electricity companies and gas companies to heat our water and buildings for us.

        Then we pay them some more to run our machines.

        Then we pay them some more to run air conditioners to get rid of the heat our machines produce.

         

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MrSteve007 (1000823)
          You are correct that the heat is not a waste product and should be dealt with accordingly. I've re-ducted the 'waste' heat from our company's servers to help heat the rest of our building during most of the year.

          Here's an article I wrote about the effort: http://www.djc.com/news/en/11202007.html [djc.com]

          Next week, the EPA is even giving us a national award for the effort.
      • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @05:52PM (#24939077) Journal

        Actually, if I understand the summary right, it says more like: well, we IT guys will teach the rest of the company too to be greener and more efficient and do more with less! And they'll listen to us! 'Cause we're smart and high-tech like that! And we have computers too!

        Which, honestly, sounds to me like someone's wishful thinking and delusions of grandeur.

        1. If IT is only 2% of a company's expenses, then they probably have some other stuff there which involves physics or chemistry. Like, you know, melting some steel, putting some serious amps through molten bauxite, or some tanks where all sorts of chemistry happens at high pressures and temperatures.

        1.A. A lot of that is _hard_ to make more energy efficient. You can't, for example just cover a steel plant in thick thermal insulation, because then the air inside would reach a thousand degrees withing seconds. Or you can't melt steel with half the energy, because honestly there are some physical constants of the universe you'd need to change. Not saying it's impossible to come up with something better, but it isn't trivial stuff either. Partially because...

        1.B. They do that already. Don't imagine that there isn't already a strong economic incentive to reduce your costs. In fact, it's the #1 thing you can promise, to get Wall Street to like you more. There are some smart engineers out there working on just that kind of stuff already.

        1.C. Let's not kid ourselves, we may be smart guys and gals, but nobody knows _everything_. The idea that some guy sitting at the computer all day would also know enough to optimize an assembly line or cracking tower, just like that, if only someone would listen to him, are close to nil. It's a different domain. Chances are you, or your IT coleagues don't even know what that assembly line is like and how it works. You'd need to put years into just understanding that, and the science behind it, and, frankly, there are people more qualified than you there. We still _do_ produce other flavours of engineers, you know?

        2. Well, I can't see many upper-level managers changing their processes just because the IT guy said so. Even _if_ the IT guy happens to be right. In a lot of places they're so caught up in their power games, and showing who's more important than who, that... well, to say the least, what makes you think they'd just give _you_ some of their power? Or better yet, give you power over them? Heh. Dream on.

    • by khasim (1285)

      From TFA:

      The benefits of analysis-based energy management include lower costs for energy, decreased equipment maintenance costs, a reduced carbon footprint, consistency across the real estate portfolio, and increased effectiveness and decreased cost of the extended enterprise, says Dan Sharplin, CEO at Site Controls, a building automation supplier.

      In order:
      No.
      No.
      Maybe.
      WTF does that mean?
      No.
      and no.

      Saving energy in IT means two things.
      #1. Reducing usage.
      #2. Buying more efficient components.

      Since, if anything,

      • remote worker's use far less energy - if one assumes the home would have been kept Air-conditioned anyway - one more person doesn't raise the cost much. The computer power of course is negligible.

        • by Splab (574204)

          You know, it is in fact possible to survive in most parts of the world without air conditioning. Yes I know it's shocking, but it's a fact of life.

          Also computer power being negligible? Well yeah, if you drop enough money for good equipment. Most cheap ass computers comes with power supplies going at full capacity + cheap screens will likely send your power usage above the 300W, doing that 8 hours a day from home is far from negligible.

          • Yes, that's like 12 kWh per week! Why, at 10c/kWh, that would be almost $5 per month.

            And most cheap ass computers come with power supplies at 300W peak, but the average draw is closer to 100W. For an average small LCD panel it's around 50-100W. So you're looking at 150-200W of draw, not 300W. That's if they're not using a laptop, which would be probably around 20W.

            But that's beside the point, because even if your employees are working from home, you still need to be running your servers. Having rem
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by fishbowl (7759)

            >You know, it is in fact possible to survive in most parts of the world without air conditioning.

            Yes, of course, but if you want me to exchange my time in order for you to take advantage of my skilled labor, I shall do much more than merely "survive."

            This is not negotiable.

            I can "subsist" without making myself part of your corporate enterprise, get it?

            If I work for you, I'm doing it for the rewards, and I have no shame in asking for the money.

            On the other hand, when I've worked in IT I haven't had the pr

          • Re:Exactly. (Score:4, Informative)

            by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @03:39PM (#24937315)

            Most cheap ass computers comes with power supplies going at full capacity + cheap screens will likely send your power usage above the 300W, doing that 8 hours a day from home is far from negligible.

            You'll find that most computers draw about 100W while working, and displays generally power down to 5W or less when left alone. Don't believe me? use killawatt or an ammeter and check it out yourself.

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            You know, it is in fact possible to survive in most parts of the world without air conditioning. Yes I know it's shocking, but it's a fact of life.

            Yeah, so? What's your point? If you don't want A/C, feel free to turn it off in your own home.

            Personally, I and most other people are not willing to work in an office without A/C, especially here in Arizona where it's 120 in the summer. It would be nice if they'd turn the thermostat up just a bit where I work though.

          • Re:Exactly. (Score:4, Interesting)

            by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai ... m minus language> on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @04:30PM (#24937977) Homepage Journal

            You know, it is in fact possible to survive in most parts of the world without air conditioning. Yes I know it's shocking, but it's a fact of life.

            You know what else? Many of those people die.

            I was watching a History Channel miniseries on the American Revolution the other day, and I was surprised to learn that one of the revolution's greatest Generals Nathanael Greene [wikipedia.org], died of a heat stroke. But not on the battlefield as one might expect. (Especially during the searing heat of Clinton's retreat from Philadelphia [wikipedia.org].) He died on his own plantation of a heat stroke.

            What I'm getting at is that you should be careful about considering AC a luxury. It may make life more comfortable, but it also saves lives. One only needs to go as far as a major city to find reports of deaths every year from low income people who have no AC.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tinkerghost (944862)

        If you want to cut the power usage of the IT department, encourage remote workers. It doesn't help overall, but it moves the power usage to the user's home.

        Actually, it was mentioned in TFA that having someone remote work doesn't reduce the energy load @ the office unless the office is smart enough to shut down the extra heating/cooling/lighting. Thus the discussion about tying LDAP logins to the heating/cooling/lighting system. When the last person logs out, shut down the AC/Heating, and 10 minutes later h

      • Saving energy in IT means two things.
        #1. Reducing usage.
        #2. Buying more efficient components.

        If the energy usage reaches a point where it really hurts,
        #3. Invest in more efficient software so you can make do with slower but less power hungry components.

        But for that Management needs to be desperate about energy costs. Because optimizig software is time consuming and expensive.

    • Re:IT Wins? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:58PM (#24936777) Journal

      Yes, all they need to do is leverage synergies across the company to achieve a new green paradigm. They'll need to be proactive about it though.

    • by Rie Beam (632299)

      We could always leave this one up to government regulation...

      *distant screams of terror*

    • by geekoid (135745)

      If it puts more IT clout into the board room, this is a good thing.

    • Ahh, more responsibility, additional liability, same pay scale.

      There's no opportunity that isn't potentially like this -- that isn't at the very least *new* responsibility, *potential* liability, and potentially even less rewarding than what you've currently got. So, if risk isn't for you, don't answer when opportunity knocks.

      I think this is a potentially interesting opportunity. IT is essentially a subset of operations / infrastructure at the moment, and it contains a lot of smart people. I think right now

  • Let IT go nuclear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cryfreedomlove (929828) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:48PM (#24936611)
    Using conservation to reduce carbon emissions assumes a carbon based power source. Why not take all the brain power you are going to throw at conservation and throw it into developing wind, solar, and nuclear as power sources?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kingrames (858416)
      I don't think the goal is to take the easy way out. I think the goal is to find ways to make energy consumption much more efficient so that the tools and methodologies you develop can be applied to other kinds of power sources. Eventually, our spaceships are going to be working on limited supplies of fuel, and "just using solar power" or some other alternative source of energy isn't gonna work out real well.

      What we need is to give a big boost to the people who work exclusively to make stuff more efficien
    • by Ambitwistor (1041236) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:57PM (#24936763)

      Because there's a lot of immediate low hanging fruit to be had from simple conservation and efficiency measures, because it will take decades to seriously ramp up our non-fossil power infrastructure, and because conservation+alternative energy is achieves more than alternative energy alone.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        So you are in favor of investing in both conservation and non-fossil power? Me too. How about nuclear? Are you willing to invest in that as a non-fossil source?
        • by ultranova (717540) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @03:49PM (#24937469)

          How about nuclear? Are you willing to invest in that as a non-fossil source?

          Nuclear power is immoral on the grounds that it desecrates the remains of dead stars. It would be like using mummies for fuel. If you think their curse was bad, just wait until a wormhole-ridden undead white giant comes after you for vengeance. It really sucks, you know.

          And don't except mercy, it ended its life with a heart of iron.

        • Sure, I'm pro nuclear, but I don't think it's going to be the silver bullet that many nuclear proponents think. Nuclear is not as cost competitive as one might think if you take away all the subsidies that currently exist, and there remain serious storage and proliferation issues that would have to be addressed if we really scaled it up. (Especially if we're looking for solutions that other countries can adopt, including ones we're not necessarily friendly with.)

    • by bazorg (911295)
      I don't think that burning brains is carbon neutral...
    • well, that's obviously the most important change on the level of infrastructure. but i think what the infoworld article is talking about is how our day to day operations can be more energy-efficient.

      if we want to survive as a species, we need to embrace conservation on a fundamental level. that doesn't just mean dropping our dependency on fossil fuels. the public needs to change its basic attitude towards energy-conservation--or just conservation in general. leaving it all to the energy companies to change

  • by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:48PM (#24936621)

    Quite seriously - run some optical tube skylights (like this [lowes.com], they come in a wide variety of options) into your working areas. FAR too many companies are wasting energy powering internal lighting when the sun's out. You can always turn on the lights *if* you need them due to a storm.

    As an added bonus, you'll start to eliminate health problems - daytime-constant lighting has been proven to mess with your internal cycles [wikipedia.org] and messes up peoples' sleeping patterns, a large part of why sleep disorders are so prevalent in developed countries.

    • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:54PM (#24936719)

      Quite seriously - run some optical tube skylights (like this [lowes.com], they come in a wide variety of options) into your working areas. FAR too many companies are wasting energy powering internal lighting when the sun's out. You can always turn on the lights *if* you need them due to a storm.

      As an added bonus, you'll start to eliminate health problems - daytime-constant lighting has been proven to mess with your internal cycles [wikipedia.org] and messes up peoples' sleeping patterns, a large part of why sleep disorders are so prevalent in developed countries.

      New Belgium, imo the best brewing company in the Unites States, already has those. They also compost their waste and collect the methanol it produces, then burn it to provide 10% of their power needs. The rest of their power comes from wind (i.e. they pay extra for their electricity, at rates that make the local wind power profitable, and that money goes to building more wind generation). What else would expect from a company with a bicycle in its logo?

      • by Moryath (553296)

        New Belgium, imo the best brewing company in the Unites States, already has those. They also compost their waste and collect the methanol it produces, then burn it to provide 10% of their power needs. The rest of their power comes from wind

        I suppose there's room here for a joke about feeding the employees beer, beans, and bratwurst for lunch each day and then collecting the "wind" during the afternoon ;)

        Seriously - good for them!

        Depending on what business you're in, the number of things you can do to save

      • New Belgium, imo the best brewing company in the Unites States

        What about Rogue, Dogfish Head, or Red Hook? Lots of great beer in the US.

    • by HeyMe (935075) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @03:01PM (#24936821)
      Better than that: http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/246/ [ecogeek.org] The optical fibers block most of the IR.
    • I live near Seattle,WA you insensitive clod! The clouds almost completely block the sun for 10 months out of the year.
    • Even when they're doing nothing, the PCs in an organisation pull 40+ watts. From 6pm to 8 the next morning is 70 useless hours a week. Add in weekends and over 100 hours you'll save 60% of the power used by your most common asset.

      The only IT issue here, is how to roll out patches/updates - but any IT manager with a grain of talent can sort that out.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Grishnakh (216268)

        The only IT issue here, is how to roll out patches/updates - but any IT manager with a grain of talent can sort that out.

        You say that as if IT managers with a grain of talent are commonplace.

    • Yeah that's great, except for those of us who work in high population density areas where multi-story buildings are the norm.
  • But instead of limiting IT's efficiency role to the datacenter, companies will tap IT's vast knowledge of company networks, equipment, and work processes to uncover efficiencies across the organization, in some cases tipping facilities management into IT.

    So what do the people we work for do again? Accounting? Nah, Background checks? I think we make soap. Yeah, tell the guy in the survey we make soap.

  • by maynard (3337) <j.maynard.gelina ... m ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:51PM (#24936663) Journal

    Those articles read like market-speak on toilet paper. At least if it had been printed on a roll, it might have been of use.

    • And get the ink smeared on my ass? Explain THAT to the wife.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MikeB0Lton (962403)
      Articles like that are for upper management types who do not want to read technical details. It does seem that more and more roles are merging together, facilities management included. Look at asset management. The tools we use are starting to provide centralized asset management for not just IT, but finance and facilities too. Granted they don't require the monitoring and config management capabilities of an IT geared product, but then they don't have to have rights into those modules either. With bui
  • by TheNecromancer (179644) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:52PM (#24936691)

    "There is a lot IT can do to fix its own 2 percent [of the company's carbon emissions] and make it more efficient"

    What about IT's methane emissions? There are alot of pizza-eating, Diet Coke-drinking techies maintaining your servers. If that energy could be harnessed (instead of lighting them off through your jeans), a company's energy costs would be significantly decreased.

    • by NevarMore (248971)

      Diet Coke-drinking techies maintaining your servers.

      Well theres your problem. IT is supposed to drink Jolt, Mt. Dew, Red Bull, etc. Diet Coke is more of a receptionist kind of thing.

      Lets not forget all of the rotting bullshit from marketing and the executive suites.

  • Green or Greenhouse? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Quantos (1327889)
    Why is it that the same people wanting IT to be green are the same people that want IT to deliver 5 9's, as well as complete security for anything that could possibly violate the integrity of the personal information that they submit on an inter/intranet? The server and it's software either has to work, or else chaos will move in and take over - what happened to bitching at the hardware manufacturers for their shortfall? Why should hardware and software work less than the brave and pioneering IT's that we
  • Wouldn't telecommuting kill two birds with one stone? If your employees stay at home, they don't use up energy commuting to work, and you don't need as much energy to heat/cool your office space or keep it well lit.

    Yeah, it doesn't solve everything, but it's a start.

    • Re:Telecommuting? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zappepcs (820751) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @03:04PM (#24936859) Journal

      Yes, fundamental changes in how IT is run will bring changes.

      Telecommuting
      Lighting changes (as mentioned)
      Changing current infrastructure out for energy efficient stuff (also mentioned)
      Improved cooling systems (mentioned)
      Better power distribution - less point of load conversions
      Unified cooling schemes throughout the data center as well as tweak and improve existing schemes. Underfloor cabling blocking forced air system balancing etc.
      There are parts of the world where underground heat exchangers could reduce the over-all cost of standard A/C systems - but that means investment.
      Compartmentalized data center "closets" - reduce power and cooling needs
      Upgrade older equipment for newer, cheaper, more capable hardware

      As can be seen, nearly all of this comes with investment costs up front. That will not happen without some form of incentive. Spend short term money to save money in the long run doesn't look good on a quarterly report. When Wall Street or Washington are on the bandwagon and supporting or giving incentives... then it will begin to happen. In the mean time, look for more data breaches, service losses, and general poor performance from companies who continue to squeeze IT budget and demand less expense from them.

  • by Aphoxema (1088507) * on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:54PM (#24936711) Homepage Journal

    The solution is obvious, simply outsource all the work and fire the IT employees. This will give you massive savings, make the few domestic employees more reliable, and give you super management powers that will make you invincible.

    • by Kingrames (858416)
      Dammit man, you KNOW someone's gonna read that.
    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      The solution is obvious, simply outsource all the work and fire the IT employees.

      We've already done this at my F-500 company. IT functions are all done, remotely, by an Indian contractor that gets paid based on how many trouble tickets they respond to.

  • IT in a factory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fishybell (516991) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (llebyhsif)> on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:55PM (#24936727) Homepage Journal
    Well, until recently I ran the IT department for a manufacturer and I'd say bad, bad idea. The company is currently in the process of building a new facility with in a combined office/factory building. I must say, sure, the computers and computer cooling equipment might take upwards of 15% of the electricity of the new building, but cranes, welders, plasma tables, galvinization equipment, etc. that is required for us to build our product isn't just going to magically take less electricity just because we want it to. IT can take less electricity today due to increases in computing power, efficiency, etc. These have been demand driven because of the operating costs, but when you buy a welding machine you look at its functionality, not its electricity cost. Unless the cost of electricity climbs beyond $50,000 a month for a small shop such as ours you won't be seeing any demand for more efficient tools. Demand is what gave us more efficient IT equipment, and it will be the same for other equipment. When that happens the various departments such as welding, fabrication, etc. will still be designing their new work spaces, just with a mandate to purchase efficient equipment whenever possible. The IT department won't be planning many factories any time soon.
  • Telecommuting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmericanInKiev (453362) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:56PM (#24936743) Homepage

    Surely the largest energy gains would come from telecommuting.

    I submit that the shift to telecommuting will look less like the current employee group working out of their home, and more like companies increasing relying on "outsourcing", and out-sorcerers increasingly consisting of people who work in low-marginal-energy environments - whether their own college dorm, some un-cooled sweatshop in Thailand.

    It bears mentioning that working from home reduces the AC energy for life-work by 50% while reducing the transportation energy by 80%. It also reduced healthcare costs by reducing viral exposures.

    • by Splab (574204)

      Thanks but no thank you. I'd like to speak to fellow human beings; you know, face to face.

      • Thanks but no thank you. I'd like to speak to fellow human beings; you know, face to face.

        I talk out of my ass most times. You still want to talk?

        • by Splab (574204)

          Look up "Little big man" no human being would ever do that, so I wont talk to you.

      • Thanks but no thank you. I'd like to speak to fellow human beings; you know, face to face.

        Adapt or perish. 'face to face' is not a meaningful metric when it comes to the negative side of saving money or moving towards environmental responsibility.

      • by swillden (191260)

        Thanks but no thank you. I'd like to speak to fellow human beings; you know, face to face.

        It's overrated.

        I like talking to my colleagues, but when held against all of the convenience and flexibility of working from home, not to mention the energy savings... I recently told a potential employer that they had to pay me $10K more per year if they wanted me to come into the office every day. I ultimately turned the job down for other reasons, but upon further reflection I decided that I should have said $20K.

    • Brilliant, obvious and totally doable on a short time scale (like, by the Monday after next, everyone telecommunting 3-5 days a week). Unfortunately, the lazy layabout management needs to make sure that everyone is still looking busy and never takes a few minutes to think about effecientcy, or the next obvious step will be to eliminate management, increasing productivity and reducing spending in one brilliant, long-time coming layoff.

    • If it means yo have to heat or cool your residence because you're there during the day (whereas if you were at work you wouldn't have to) the savings may not be as big as you thought.

      Worse, your employer may not pay you for the extra power you use - most won't even consider it. Plus, you're effectively giving your employer a cube-sized chuck of your house for free, try asking them for rent and I could hear them laughing at you from here!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by swillden (191260)

        Worse, your employer may not pay you for the extra power you use - most won't even consider it.

        Stack the additional power you use up against the money you save in fuel and vehicle wear and I'll bet telecommuting comes out ahead for the vast majority of people. Not to mention the time you save.

        Plus, you're effectively giving your employer a cube-sized chuck of your house for free, try asking them for rent and I could hear them laughing at you from here!

        Most people can move 30 miles further from the office and get 50% more house for the same money.

        Even if you don't move, I for one am more than happy to trade a little space in my house* for the flexibility that comes from working at home. I see my kids when they get home from school, and I can pop down to th

  • by Rie Beam (632299) on Tuesday September 09, 2008 @02:56PM (#24936747) Journal

    I think Beowulf clusters might be uncalled for here.

  • But the big opportunity for IT is to take a leadership role in tackling that other 98 percent across the business...

    That's not my yob...

    Seriously, that's like suggesting the HR department take on increasing power efficiency. When you blow compartmentalization like that all sorts of nasty things happen. It's like letting the programmers work directly with the clients; you're guaranteed to go bankrupt in months.

    On the other hand, I can just picture what happens next: A new department. "Say hi to the new c

  • we will be transitioning more IT workers into plumbing positions?

  • Is this saying businesses should let the IT people choose what kind of equipment gets put in other departments, or perhaps that we get to streamline inefficient processes?

    It basically sounds like they want to turn IT into pseudo-management, which may not be such a terrible idea, given the logical nature of IT. That essentially boils down to: they want people who can think logically and have lots of knowledge to plan the way things are done. Shocking concept.

    • by bendodge (998616)

      Ick, I also seem to have shocking grammar today...

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      Unfortunatly, IT often isn't logical, and often doesn't have all that much knowledge. While I have know many superstars, and think very highly of myself, I have also seen very large numbers of IT folks that are clueless. There is a reason that Saturday Night Live had a skit called 'Nick Burns: The company computer guy' [hulu.com].
  • How much stuff do you have on your desk that actually runs at 120Hz AC? If you switched to a local DC source (say solar, backed up by batteries or something) you wouldn't have to convert to and from 120. Straight 12 volts DC down from the roof to the data center. That step alone seems to me like it would cut out at least two conversions which at best would be ~ 85 or 90% efficient. I don't design power supplies for servers but it seems that all of the components run on 12V, 5V or 3.3V so there is no reas
  • It seems a lot of new small computers are coming out these days, some of them even are Atom-based.

    You may need a 500W Core 2 Quad + SLI videocards for your home gaming, but I'd say 99% of corporate computer users will be fine with an Atom, 1GB RAM and integrated intel GPU.

    These things have 60-80W power supplies, and that's their maximum load. I'm sure they use far less than that under normal operation.

  • Is everyone buying into mumbo-jumbo and super-hype still? Yes I'm that cynical.

    I suppose if you need to have feel good projects, tell them to go plant a forest and sell it later for profit, then plant a new one. On top of that they can sell carbon credits for money. It becomes a company project that way! Or invest in a wind/solar farm. As well as the usual common sense stuff, if you're in a semi-large building see what you can do to push geo-thermal retrofits at the next upgrade for heating/cooling.

    Cars

  • It all makes sense now...bear with me...

    Linus Torvalds gets bitten by a penguin...

    Creates an operating system and adopting said penguin as a logo...

    Insures that said operating system is openly available to anyone who wants it...

    The ability to create a free server from one's house increases...

    The number of living penguins as a result of melting polar ice decreases...

  • Put all your datacenters in India, China, Malaysia and Africa where no one cares how much they pollute.

  • 1) By a few acres out near the edge of the community.

    2) Build one Solar Thermal collector.

    3) Profit.

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