Server Refresh + Energy Rebates = A MATCH! (Part 2 of 2)

In Part 1 of Server Refresh + Energy Rebates = A MATCH, I chatted with my colleagues Tom and David to understand how they were able to motivate their internal customers to stay on track to a four-year refresh cycle. In Part 2 of this discussion, I talked again to David and to his colleague Mary. Mary is a System Administrator and Resource Planner within the Computing Solutions and Services team. Mary owns server purchases and removals.

David – You spent a lot of money to get a rebate that only paid for a fraction of the costs. What other motivation did you have for doing the refresh?

• Great question -- Being a good corporate citizen. Doing the right thing is all part of the big picture. Look, our data centers were reaching capacity limits with no end for incremental growth. An opportunity was presented to remove older capacity refreshing with newer. We just needed to figure out the multiplier and calculations to achieve a reasonable refresh ratio. In an Intel IT white paper: Realizing Data Center Savings with an Accelerated Server Refresh Strategy, we found that we can achieve consolidation ratios ranging from 7:1 to 13:1 depending on the workload and other factors, while substantially reducing energy consumption. Just imagine your data center footprint reduction, power reduction (mechanical/electrical) and my favorite reduced hardware support in addition to a reduced monthly/quarterly power bill. The benefits are long term… 

Mary - You didn’t have much time to remove such a large amount of equipment, how was that done?

• Running an efficient, streamlined end of life (EOL) process is important when you are trying to remove a lot of servers from your data center.  Effective customer communication is key to being successful in accomplishing incident free EOL.  Our EOL Process is done in two phases.   The first phase, is essentially our planning phase and where our initial customer approvals take place.  Out of warranty compute servers are identified 6 months prior to the EOL date.  This gives us ample time to contact server owners and to identify critical servers that cannot be EOLd.  The second phase is the EOL Execution.  This is where the actual EOLing of servers take place.  Due to our diligence during phase 1, we are assured that everything targeted for EOL can be shutdown without interruption to our customers.

David - Did the Energy Trust conduct audits to make sure equipment was removed?

• Yes – An ETO representative performed a final verification. The verification consisted of power readings (within 10% of the forecasted readings), hardware class and quantity. The hardware power readings were monitored for five days meeting all the requirements. Actually I found the process easy and the contracting firm flexible. The representative brought their own equipment for testing to acquire the necessary results.  

Mary - What happens to the removed equipment?

• All of the equipment goes through the Intel waterfall process.  Some of the servers are sold to recyclers through the Intel Resale Chanel.  In Oregon, we have donated portion of our EOL equipment to StRUT (Students Recycling Used Technology).  StRUT is a program incorporated into Oregon Schools where students take donated computers and equipment and learn to refurbish and recycle them.

Mary - What did you use the rebate money for?

• We have completed two energy saving projects using the rebate money, we replaced and recycled CRT monitors with new LCD monitors and replaced and recycled hard disk drives with solid state drives.

David - If others are interested in finding similar opportunities in their areas, how should they go about finding them?

• If you search your local power companies web site, there is usually rebates set aside for businesses. In most cases, contact information is available to call the program manager directly. The first step is making the call… second, finding out what rebates are available… Third, find out what benefits are offered sized appropriately for your business to initiate server, monitor, lighting, building upgrades (mechanical/electrical) refresh/upgrades.

David - Are there some concerns you had?

Knowing what to ask and share the right data is always helpful…
• In most cases you will be asked to share specific data so it is recommended to have a non-disclosure agreement in place and always gain prior approval before sharing any third-party information 
• If you have an idea and willing to share this with the utility power company program manager, a customized program can be developed around your idea. It might be a onetime offering or yearly offering. 
• Know your target – if you’re refresh servers, ask the Utility Power company for a template to calculate the refresh. If this is not available I found several key searches for the word “sustainability” on the web.