Everyone now accepts that virtualisation systems are pretty useful. Whether you can afford them or not is another matter, but there are enough case studies out there to prove that a well run virtualised environment can deliver the average datacenter huge hikes in utilisation rates and availability while making it far easier for administrators to test new configurations and applications without plunging the whole business into darkness.
However, there is also another benefit and it's one not many people seem to have thought about. Virtualisation is kind to the planet.
I made this discovery while putting together a series of articles on how to make your IT department more environmentally friendly. I've embarked on this task not because I have a secret desire to grow my hair, stop using deodorant, and start wearing hemp. But because - as all but the most rabid Clarksonistas now accept - the environment is a front and centre corporate issue and firms are facing increasing pressure from both the public and the government to reduce their environmental impact, not least through the technologies they use.
Which brings me back to virtualisation. In preparing the article I spoke last week with Gary Fowle, marketing director at Fujitsu Siemens Computers, about the steps IT directors could take to become greener. In amongst all the usual tips about thinking about energy consumption when making purchases and signing up with an authorised recycler he also said IT directors should really consider virtualisation as a really green technology.
I'll let him explain: "Some of the most power hungry applications are run from the datacenter and here virtualisation technologies can really help improve energy efficiency. Effectively virtualisation aims to simplify the datacenter and drive up utilisation. That means you are running the same tasks on fewer servers, using less electricity and requiring less cooling. It is a triple whammy: less servers have to get made, they are more energy efficient, and, on the business side, there is much less cost for the IT director."
Of course he is right. Energy efficiency may not be one of the issues talked about at your typical virtualised system sales pitch, but it is a significant hidden benefit that is likely to get more and more coverage as environmental issues become a wider concern for IT professionals.
I'd be keen to hear any other tips you may have about running an environmentally responsible IT department and look out for the full series of Green IT articles in the 4th of September issue of IT Week.
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