IBM Commits $1B to Cure Data Center Energy Crisis

IBM will begin investing US$1 billion per year across its businesses to dramatically increase the energy efficiency of information technology, the company announced Thursday.

As part of its “Project Big Green” plan that includes new products and services, Big Blue aims to sharply reduce data center energy consumption and to transform the world’s business and public technology infrastructures into “green” data centers, the company stated.

“The data center energy crisis is inhibiting our clients’ business growth as they seek to access computing power,” said Mike Daniels, senior vice president of IBM Global Technology Services.

“Many data centers have now reached full capacity, limiting a firm’s ability to grow and make necessary capital investments,” Daniels said. “Today we are providing clients the IBM action plan to make their data centers fully utilized and energy efficient.”

Power Hogs

Data centers are known for their enormous power consumption. For every dollar spent on computer hardware, roughly 50 additional cents are spent on energy, according to IDC — and that’s expected to increase to 71 cents over the next four years.

With the help of 850 energy efficiency architects from across the company, IBM plans to make these power hogs more efficient. For an average, 25,000-square foot data center, the result could be energy savings of as much as 42 percent, potentially leading to 7,439 tons of carbon emissions saved per year in the United States, officials said.

At its own data centers — IBM currently has more than 8 million square feet of them across six continents — IBM expects to double the computing capacity within the next three years without increasing power consumption or its carbon footprint, which is the amount of greenhouse gases emitted as a result.

Compared with doubling the size of its data centers by building new space, this will help save more than 5 billion kilowatt-hours of energy per year, officials said.

Widespread Support

“This sounds like a smart investment that will help IBM’s bottom line while helping the environment as well,” Bill Magavern, senior representative for Sierra Club California, told TechNewsWorld. “It’s very important that the computer industry reduce its carbon footprint — it uses a lot of electricity, and it’s growing.”

IBM’s Project Big Green also garnered praise from the White House.

“The President’s comprehensive climate change policy strongly encourages private sector leadership in increasing energy efficiency,” Kristen Hellmer, a spokesperson for the Executive Office of the President’s Council on Environmental Quality, told TechNewsWorld.

Who Can Be Greenest?

“As a member of the government’s Climate Leaders program and EnergyStar, IBM is a great example of demonstrating a commitment to improved energy efficiency,” Hellmer said. “The administration is encouraged that countless other companies are following IBM’s lead.”

Indeed, the move is part of a trend currently at work in the corporate world, Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld.

“Right now, the big competition between companies is, who can be greenest?” Enderle explained. Al Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” has focused considerable attention on the environment, Enderle noted, while European countries are already heavily focused on being green.

Upgrade Assistance

“The United States is heading that way too,” he added. “There are also interesting cost savings as well.”

As part of its Project Big Green, IBM also announced a new set of asset recovery offerings to help clients with less energy-efficient data centers upgrade to greener technologies. The “Go Green in My Data Center” program includes free data center server disposal, disk wiping services, a Green Data Center Asset Recovery Hotline and special financing offers.

“Just as IBM helped organizations grapple with new innovations around the Internet and Linux, we will again assist clients navigate this new era of energy efficient computing,” said Bill Zeitler, senior vice president of IBM Systems and Technology Group.”Relief from the energy crisis can’t be achieved through incremental improvements,” Zeitler said. “Bold ideas and actionable plans are needed to deal with this issue.”

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