Top Green IT: Making it Happen

Computer World has just released their Top Green IT User and Vendors. I was of course proud that Intel made the list – we spend a lot of effort on efficiency and it’s nice to see it recognized.  What I wanted to write about, though, is the success of Kaiser Permanente and their lessons learned.

Kaiser Permanente, in Oakland CA, reduced their data center energy use   by 6% in a by the template use of the Organize, Modernize and Optimize imperative. They Organized by ensuring their data center facilities team was part of IT. Perhaps the single most powerful organizational mandata a CIO can make. They Modernized by virtualizing workloads on efficient IT equipment to maximize the effectiveness of their IT resources. And they Optimized, by isolating cold and hot air in their data center and by running a fluid dynamics model of their data center continuously, to look for opportunity.

The prescription is one almost any IT organization can follow.


One of the biggest problems (still!) in the data center is getting started. Making just a simple change to organization responsibility of ensure data center owners are responsible for the site energy consumption is probably the most impactful long term change a CEO or CIO can make. Beyond that, measuring costs, power consumption, and data center productivity are about all you need to start making the right decisions.

The next step is to make sure the IT equipment in the data center is a efficient as possible. In many cases, this in and of itself can make a tremendous difference in energy consumption. For instance Television Suisse Romande just reduced the number of servers by about 50% through consolidation.

The last big step is making the entire data center run as efficiencly as possible. Why do this last? Well, you can’t really optimize it if you can’t measure it, so you need to get organized. And if you have missed the opportunity to reduce the number of servers by 50%, why take 10% off your PUE when, in a few months when you do need to replace those servers, you’ll just have to do the work again. For example in the Datacenter2020 collaboration the results indicated cooling did not need to be as high as initially anticipated.

A very impressive job!