What you can't measure, you can't control. That adage may not be universally true (I can measure my two-year-old godson but can't control him), but it's certainly apt when you're talking about bringing greater energy efficiency and eco-friendliness to your IT operations. In a nutshell, if you don't know how much power your IT gear consumes nor how much CO2 it produces, you're going to have difficulty coming up with a strategic plan to reduce either.
That's one of the points emphasized in a recently released report from Forrester titled "Is Green IT Your Emperor With No Clothes?" In it, author Doug Washburn and his associates urge organizations to measure "their green IT baseline — an annual estimate of the energy consumption, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and financial costs of operating IT."
[ For more tips from Forrester on developing a smart sustainable-technology action plan, please read "Strategic steps down the green IT path." ]
In the report, Forrester provides some relatively simple equations to help organizations figure out how much electricity they're using per year to run their various IT systems, as well as how much it costs and how much CO2 it creates. (I easily built a spreadsheet containing the various equations, and I'm certainly not an Excel wiz.)
First, Forrester says that you need count up all your IT equipment, outside the datacenter — including PCs and laptops, peripherals, and telephony gear — as well as inside, which would encompass servers, storage and networking gear, CRAC equipment, PDUs, and lighting. Doing an inventory of all your IT assets in this way is a good practice in general; it can help you find machines that are plugged in but doing little to no actual work. (McKinsey and Company reported earlier this year that on average, distributed systems in datacenters run at only 5 to 30 percent capacity.)
Once you know how many computers, servers, switches, and so forth you have, the Forrester report says that you should figure out the energy draw in kilowatts for each type of equipment. That might seem like a difficult task. How do you measure it? Well, you could ask the manufacturer and hope they give you a figure that accurately reflects your usage of said asset. Alternatively, you could measure it for yourself.