29 October 2010
Comments: 0
29 October 2010, Comments: 0

Following on from Haree’s post a few weeks ago about our lovely new Toyota Prius hybrid car, I thought I’d continue the green theme with some thoughts and suggestions on how to make your IT setup a bit more environmentally friendly. There are already several brilliant technologies for reducing energy consumption, some of which may already be built into your existing operating systems, so it’s worth knowing about these, especially as energy costs are set to increase dramatically in the future.

Saving energy starts small, so you can look at doing things like turning off your monitors when you leave for the evening instead of letting them go to standby, setting your screensaver to kick in sooner, and using smart sockets that will detect when a main item (ie your PC) goes into standby and automatically power off the other sockets. As devices in standby mode still drain energy, this is a fairly good way to start. But it doesn’t stop there.

There are already several ways to help out the environment and / or save yourself energy costs. For example, if you use Google, try using Blackle instead. The idea of this ingenious site is to run a google search, but to make the screen black, thereby decreasing the amount of energy your monitor draws. Another personal favourite is Ecosia. Another search engine, every time you run a web search, Ecosia will donate 80% of the revenue they make from the sponsored links that come up when you do a search to saving rainforest. They say that every seach you do saves 2m square of forest, and they also provide a downloadable plugin so you can keep track of how much you’ve personally saved by searching.

How about using VOIP telephony? If you’ve ever used Skype, you’ve already used VOIP! Essentially using the internet to make phone calls, the service can be extended by purchasing VOIP telephones and using your broadband connection to make the calls. There are several advantages to this, such as automated call answering, conference calling, and several call routing options to make call handling easier. Another advantage is that the phone is tied to the number no matter where it is, so if you need to go on a business trip, you can take the phone with you, and it will still have the same number, anywhere in the world, as long as it’s plugged into an internet connection. You can even dial office extensions! And of course, using video conferencing can mean less travel to other locations, saving fuel and money…

Another avenue to consider is what’s known as Cloud computing (it’s a bit of a buzzword at the moment). It sounds confusing, but all it really means is running apps and software online over the internet, rather than in-house. For example, if you have an in-house server drinking electricity, but all it’s really doing is providing an email service (like Exchange), we can host it for you over the internet. We’ll house the server in our datacenter, and your end users connect to it over the internet. From the end user perspective, there is no change to the experience, but you’ve got rid of that noisy server in the corner! You can also do similar things for any number of applications or services. It’s great for you, as you can save energy costs and gain space, and it’s easier to manage for us, again saving you maintenence costs.

Of course reducing energy consumption is also good for your wallet as well as the environment, and if you’re running a network with multiple always-on servers, you could do a lot worse than look at virtualisation as a way of cutting costs. The idea of virtualisation is to consolidate your infrastructure into as little hardware as possible. For example, say you have 5 servers, with virtualisation, you could run them all on 1 physical box, rather than 5, hence cutting power consumption and making management easier, cutting service costs as well. There are several solutions for doing this, but we’ve been using VMWare VSphere here at iceConnect, with amazing results. It also allows more flexibility for your IT support, because it allows us to easily implement disaster recovery plans, and do hardware maintenence with no downtime. This means more resiliency, and greater energy saving for your business.

Less energy used = lower carbon footprint = better for the environment = even better for your wallet.

Future proofing your business is the way to go, especially with the recently announced government austerity measures. So try to green up your IT a bit! Ask me how I can help your company reduce it’s carbon footprint. If you have any more energy saving ideas, I would love to hear them so please feel free to leave a comment below.

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