Green Computing @ Upstate

student at computerUpstate's Information Management and Technology organization is committed to the principles of green technology and green computing. IMT's Green Technology Initiative focuses on utilizing energy efficient computers, recycling old equipment, reducing the amount of paper we use, changing work habits, and collaborating with companies that utilize green manufacturing and shipping practices. IMT is working towards reducing energy costs, waste and trash and shrinking Upstate's carbon footprint.

The Upstate Data Center

Upstate's Data Center is located on the third floor of the Campus West Building (CWB) and has become a key element of the IMT initiative. The EPA estimates that data centers consume 1.5% of the total electricity used in the U.S. Data centers not only require large amounts of electricity, they also need to be kept cool.

Virtualization

blade servers
Blade Servers

IMT has been moving to utilize virtualization (a technology that reduces the number of physical computers used to deliver programs and data by optimizing the use of more modern, faster and powerful computers and software) to save energy and space. Servers, mainframes (yes they are still used), mass storage disc drives, and switching equipment have filled every bit of space of Upstate's Data Center. A year ago the server environment alone consisted 225 file servers – there was a dedicated physical server for each application – filling 25 floor to ceiling racks. It cost an estimated $95,000 per year to provide the power for the electrical, backup, cooling and emergency power resources needed to operate just these systems. And since each of these servers typically use only 6 to 10% of the servers processing power, it’s a very inefficient way to deliver computer services. Through the use of server virtualization, 7 blade servers have replaced 79 of those 225 servers over the past several months. Through virtualization, rather than providing electricity and cooling for ten different physical servers, those applications can now run on a single piece of hardware which reduces energy consumption and cooling requirements. Blade servers are effectively computers on a single printed circuit board. They can be combined in smaller racks and configured to share common data storage. IMT is using energy efficient blade servers from Hewlett Packard. These servers have the intelligence to provide power and cooling on demand and only when needed. Previous generation servers ran multiple power supplies and fans at full speed 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

It is estimated that we can save an estimate $47,000 in energy costs (electrical and cooling costs) for every 40 physical servers that are moved to a virtualization environment. An additional savings of $26,000 in annual maintenance costs is also predicted. So far we are on track to recoup these savings.

Cooling the Data Center

A new energy efficient cooling system is being installed in the data center. If the outside air temperature is below 60 degrees, some of the system's compressors will shut down and save energy. If the temperature falls below 40 degrees, all of the compressors will shut down thus providing free cooling to the data center.

With the Syracuse climate, it is expected that this type of cooling technology will significantly reduce the energy needed to cool the data center.

Vendors & Manufacturers

The computers Upstate purchases from Dell are Energy Star 4.0 and 5.0 compliant. They deliver 30% better performance with a power savings of 40% over previous generations of Intel processors. Dell is also a carbon neutral company.

Those who have taken delivery of a new computer at Upstate have had to figure out what to do with the styrofoam packing, the CD's with software not needed here on campus, and the plastic bags filled with warranty information and assorted pamphlets. The East Tower expansion was going to bring about that collection of waste paper and plastic for more than a 1,000 new computers until IMT contacted Dell to talk about a better way to ship and deliver that many machines. As a result of that conversation, the new computers are being shipped on pallets with 4 computers and 6 laptops to a box and wont include all the styrofoam, CDs, plastic bags and waste paper. There is no telling how many pounds of waste material won't be arriving here in Syracuse this Spring.

Other vendors who are committed to the same green computing principles that IMT has adopted include VMware for server virtualization and Hewlett Packard for file servers. Both of these companies produce products that help Upstate reduce the amount of energy it uses.