The green IT stars of 2011

InfoWorld's 2011 Green 15 Awards: Sustainable IT practices bring rich rewards

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All told, the initiative saved Hovnanian approximately $300,000 on server costs, $80,000 per year on electricity, and $1.2 million on travel costs, while reducing its carbon footprint by 775,000 pounds.

2011 Green 15 winner: Intel

Intel uses some 50,000 servers to perform silicon design and development tasks -- operations that grow increasingly complex each year, thereby increasing annual compute demand by 45 percent. Rather than piling more machines into its data centers, the company launched an initiative to squeeze more work out of its current fleet.

To do so, the chipmaker developed an algorithm dubbed NUMA-Booster to schedule design workloads to run more optimally than would otherwise using default OS scheduling on multicore NUMA systems. The algorithm increased server performance by 17 percent, effectively boosting the overall capacity of its server clusters by 11 percent. The company expects to see even greater gains as it retires older machines and deploys newer multicore models.

Based on the success of the pilot portion of this project, the company then worked with its finance and user groups to reduce forecasted servers and energy footprint while still meeting computing demand. 

2011 Green 15 winner: Tata Consultancy Services

Based in Chennai, India, Tata Consultancy Services realized a couple of years ago that its growing electricity demands would soon outpace the available supply. To stave off this shortage, TCS launched an initiative aimed at cutting electricity usage, associated costs, and carbon emissions.

Dubbed PowerIT, the initiative included the development of a Web-based tool for capturing and reporting daily electricity consumption across the company's various work centers. The tool has enabled TCA to unlock its energy consumption patterns, a critical step in reducing usage.

The PowerIT team has used social media, pop-up messages, contests, and brainstorming sessions to push energy-saving practices and to generate new ones -- including consolidating weekend work into a single building and powering down PCs when not in use.

TCS has also worked to evaluate vendors based on the power efficiency of their products and to embrace green practices within its various data centers, such as virtualization and application scheduling to use idle computing time.

TCS saw a 9 percent savings in energy consumption in a controlled environment without any major financial investment. Once the company expanded the initiative to its 84 development centers across India and made a greater financial investment, it realized a 16 percent energy savings.

2011 Green 15 winner: Telenor Norway

Telenor Norway opted for a more responsible approach to decommissioning 9,500 base stations as part of a massive upgrade of its wireless and core networks. Rather than selling equipment to recyclers for pennies on the dollar, the company launched a reuse strategy that greatly reduced the environmental impact of transporting and disposing retired gear.

Telenor Norway enlisted SaaS provider Trade Wings as its reuse-strategy partner. Trade Wings' Re:source Visibility service enabled Telenor Norway to track existing network assets -- from active to excess or decommissioned -- throughout its supply chain.

Using the system, de-installed equipment data is captured at a central collection site in Oslo warehouse for real-time visibility. The system's disposition engine then checks against demand for each piece of equipment, determining whether it should be resold, recycled locally to extract precious metals (and limit transportation), or stored for reuse in one of Telenor Group's mobile networks.

Telenor's approach to dealing with decommissioned assets has helped the company reduce carbon emissions associated with transportation while squeezing the most value out of each piece of equipment it owns. All told, the initiative is expected to save Telenor nearly $9 million.

2011 Green 15 winner: West Virginia Office of Technology

Tax dollars in West Virginia are being used more efficiently, thanks to a series of green IT investments by the state's office of technology.

On the desktop level, the WVOT deployed 1E PC power management software to 15,000-plus computers, spread among 75 agencies at 1,075 locations. Automating PC shutdowns will save the state an estimated $500,000 per year by 2012. The state is also exploring the use of virtual desktops to reduce energy consumption costs even more.

On the back end, the WVOT launched a consolidation and virtualization effort, migrating 17,000 of the 20,000 state agency employees from a variety of disparate email systems to a central email environment, resulting in a significant reduction of legacy servers.

The WVOT's 1E Nomad Enterprise deployment for delivering patches, software, and OS upgrades has saved the state from investing in hundreds of new servers for its remote locations. The rollout of centralized Web and voice services, videoconferencing systems, and desktop e-faxing has also increased worker productivity, while saving the state significant expenses through reduced travel.

2011 Green 15 winner: Xiolink

Data center operator Xiolink fully embraced the concept of sustainability in building its new data center in St. Louis: Rather than constructing an entirely new facility, the company opted to renovate a historic downtown building -- previously home to the St. Louis Dispatch -- that had been vacant for nearly a decade.

Xiolink deployed an array of state-of-the-art technologies and green computing practices to make its data center energy efficient. For example, the facility's HVAC systems draws on outside air as temperature permits and uses variable frequency drives to adjust the speeds of pumps, motors, and fans, making the act of cooling 40 percent more energy efficient than with traditional CRAC systems.

The facility boasts hot and cold aisles, along with PVC curtains to prevent air from mixing, and its UPS system, the Eaton 9395, operates at 94-plus percent efficiency, requiring less power and running cooler than standard models, while taking up 50 percent less floor space.

For power distribution, Xiolink went with a power plug-in raceway, a reliable modular system that allows the operator to add extra circuits and change power without delays.

This article, "The green IT stars of 2011," originally appeared at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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