How Exactly Does Virtualization Reduce Your Carbon Footprint? by David Malmborg
You may already know about some of the green benefits of server virtualization, but are you sure you are taking advantage of all of them? Virtualization has a number of advantages that can reduce both your expenses and your carbon footprint. Here’s a look at how server virtualization can help you save the planet.
Today’s servers are built with extremely powerful processors that are able to handle advanced computing tasks with ease. It no longer makes sense, in most instances, to dedicate a single server to a single task or application—when used this way, most of the processing power is wasted.
That’s where virtualization comes in—essentially, network admins set up multiple virtual servers on a single machine. These virtual servers act like unique devices with their own operating systems and applications, and because they are all being run simultaneously on one machine, virtualization allows for a more effective use of resources. Companies that use server virtualization are able to spend less on physical infrastructure.
How Virtualization Can Help You Go Green
It should be fairly obvious, then, how virtualization can help you go green. The fewer physical machines you need, the fewer physical resources you require from the environment in the form of manufacturing and transportation of these servers. You will also create less landfill (or expend less energy to recycle) when it is time to replace your obsolete hardware.
What you may not have considered, however, are some of these additional benefits of virtualization:
- Direct energy savings – If you are using fewer servers, you need less energy, overall, to power them. This can directly reduce your carbon footprint.
- Indirect energy savings – Large data centers full of servers generate a lot of heat. That heat must be eliminated somehow, often through costly and energy-draining refrigeration techniques. Fewer servers mean less heat and large energy savings for your organization.
- Less real estate– Virtualization can dramatically reduce the physical space you need to maintain your servers. This reduction in space means savings in terms of everyday energy needs such as lighting and climate control.
- Fewer staff members needed to maintain – Since human resources are usually the most expensive line item most companies have in their budgets, fewer staff members can translate to significant savings in capital. Fewer employees can also reduce an organization’s overall carbon footprint, however. Fewer people working means less energy is being exerted.
Looking to the Future
Server virtualization has already helped a great many organizations dramatically reduce their carbon footprints, but there is still more that needs to be done. Many businesses are operating well below their server computing capacity. If organizations took the time to evaluate their resources and their current needs, many may find that they could make additional inroads with virtualization. This consolidation of computing power will not only help the earth, but also the bottom line of the organization. In other words, though virtualization is generally good for the environment, it does not mean much unless server utilization rates are drastically improved.
Has your organization seen any reduction in energy expenditure through virtualization? What plans do you have to make your data center greener?