Disney World highlights green IT in new Epcot exhibit

SmarterPlanet features a green data center -- and doubles as an IBM ad

Step aside, Space Mountain. See ya later, Splash Mountain. Buh-bye, Big Thunder Mountain. There's a new attraction at Walt Disney World called SmarterPlanet, featuring a green data center designed by IBM.

Based in Epcot, a destination geared more toward knowledge seekers than thrill seekers, the SmarterPlanet exhibit (officially called "SmarterPlanet presented by IBM") aims to show visitors, via hands-on kiosks, how technology can help individuals and organizations cut waste and solve problems such as global warming.

[ Syracuse University has unveiled a green data center of its own, running on DC power. | Currently accepting nominations for the 2010 InfoWorld Green 15 awards. ]

At least one of the exhibits apparently has little to do with waste reduction or addressing other Earthly challenges. Called Runtime, the exhibit (according to IBM's announcement) "transforms guests into personalized avatars as part of the video game experience.  Players run, jump and dance through a timeline of IBM's achievements in the history of computing, journeying from the Babbage computer, through vacuum tubes and chips and bits, to the Internet."

The technology itself sounds cool, but the application sounds, well, goofy. "Mommy, mommy! I loved the part where IBM released the flexible System/360 series -- but I got scared at the part where Xerox sued them for patent infringement!"

The SmarterPlanet exhibit isn't powered by some Mickey Mouse data center, but rather an energy-efficient setup built around IBM's Scalable Module Data Center design. Big Blue has been pushing its Module Data Centers for a couple of years now. The idea is to install a standardized module, including highly optimized servers, storage, and switches, along with management software. The approach is intended to take much of pre-planning work that goes into installing a new data center, thus saving deployment time.

Further, IBM proclaims the design is more energy efficient than a standard data center, which translates to an overall reduction in IT costs -- including energy bills -- of 25 percent.

Also on display in the Disney data center is an IBM Cloudburst demonstration environment. Introduced last June, IBM's Cloudburst appliances combine hardware, storage, networking, virtualization, and service management capabilities. The overall idea is to drive efficiencies by creating a "self-service cloud" through which IT resources can be delivered as needed on demand.

The datacenter's unused computing resources are being donated to the World Community Grid to help in various types of medical, humanitarian, and environmental research. The project draws on excess computing power from machines worldwide.

This story, "Disney World highlights green IT in new Epcot exhibit," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in green IT at InfoWorld.com.