2007 InfoWorld CTO 25: Phil Nail

Founder and CTO, AISO

As concerns over potential power shortages and global warming rise, some IT leaders are just now dipping their toes into the waters of energy efficiency and environmental responsibility. But Affordable Internet Service Online (AISO) co-founder and CTO Phil Nail has been riding high atop the ecogreen wave since the 1990s.

AISO is a green Web-hosting and network environment company with 15,000 clients worldwide. "My philosophy is to do everything as ecoresponsibly as possible," says Nail. "If we have a new challenge, I look at it and figure out a way that will complete the task at hand -- but in the most ecofriendly way."

The company's most recent challenge was "taking our datacenter to a virtual environment, which has allowed us enormous growth potential," says Nail. The new IT environment is composed of IBM, Network Appliance, and VMware products that meet AISO's clients’ strict energy consumption, system redundancy, and scalability requirements. The company reports that it has managed to reduce datacenter power consumption by approximately 60 percent by replacing 120 custom-built "white box" servers with four IBM xSeries boxes.

AISO's green hue doesn't stop there. The company is powered entirely on solar energy. The datacenter is completely steel framed; there's no wood used, except for the interior door frames. The walls, measuring more than a foot in thickness, are filled with insulation made from recycled content. Solar tubes bring in natural sunlight, thus eliminating the need for conventional lighting during the day. And the company employs water-cooled cooling systems, which reduce energy usage. All these features have helped earn AISO's datacenter the distinction of being the first and only public datacenter member of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Next on the horizon: The company is designing a green roof for its datacenter, constructed of a layer of dirt with drought-resistant plants. That is expected to cut the company's cooling and heating requirements in half.

Green technologies and best practices will continue to evolve, and Nail says he's ready to keep pushing the ecofriendly envelope. "I love the day-to-day challenges of creating more ways to be ecofriendly with our datacenter. I thrive on finding new ways to do things that would make the normal IT director cringe trying."