Green IT opportunities abound

Its a quiet Sunday afternoon.It has been pouring in Delhi since morning dashing all my plans of a vigorous morning walk in the greeneries.Had to be content with indoor workout and pleased with myself for not letting rains not get the better of my newly developed fitness bug !

Considering that not only traffic virtually comes to a standstill in Delhi on a rainy day but also, snarls and throws angry fumes like a giant dragon of pollution,Rain did get the better of any plans I could have had in the day to step outside & get some odd jobs done.

Well so be it but,Whats all this rain and flooding of a barely claiming its existence river ( Yamuna), I have been seeing for past 5 years all about? Has the river risen in retaliation to silence all the taunts ? May be root cause is somewhere up the stream..Himalayas and the melting glaciers? Or going one step further , it is global warming due to pollution. Finally it really comes down to accepting our collective responsibility towards environment by adopting sustainable growth practices in our personal and professional lives.

As IT professional what's my bit for keeping the environment green? How can IT be more sustainable and green?

Infrastructure layer is the basic layer of IT systems comprising of servers, storage, network, routers and of course datacenters. Infrastructure services have a track record of incurring large capex investments and comes with a shelf life.Eventually it has to be refreshed or replaced.Usually this layer also consumes large amount of energy and hence current research effort in Green IT is focusing maximum attention on this layer.

The thrust of the activities is around cooling datacenter with as low a carbon foot print as possible and also around using excess heat generated from them for greener purposes.The leading companies are showing the way by cooling their data centers in innovative ways. One way is to cool them by using large supply of fresh air obtained from using fans via high-efficiency filters. The building housing the datacenter are being designed with recycled materials and built to use harvested rainwater.Rationalizing the packaging of servers and equipment is also on the green list.

Virtualisation is good in the green world. Growth in hardware performance has been outpacing demands of applications and software and hence dedicated application servers are often under-utilized. Virtualisation provides a layer of abstraction between the server(physical) and application's server name (logical).Hence,the application to server name mapping is no longer hardcoded at physical/IP Level.The application connects to a logical server while physical server is determined at the run time by the virtualisation. The Management layer distributes the workload among servers as per their utilization levels .

Now with virtualisation and increased computing power,we see that processor, storage, networking and memory resources are becoming commodities that can be used as and when needed.

We have seen this before in programming world through object oriented programming in C++, Java and C#. In C#, the object type can be declared as generic object, then runtime turns it into appropriate object type and invokes properties and behaviors. In this scenario runtime manages the abstraction between memory address (physical) and variable name ( logical).

According to Matt Brudzynski, senior research analysts at Info-Tech Research Group, companies in Info-Tech’s recent study, “Achieving The Business Case In Virtualization,” accrued 40 to 75% savings in hardware purchases when deploying a virtualized server farm vs. traditional single-instance servers.Virtualization has been touted as panacea but is not without its problems. The VM Sprawl has spread and systems management of VM environment has its nightmares.

Moving on to middleware, Service oriented architecture is definitely green in as much as it allows reusability of software components. In application layers, usage of automation tools, solution accelerators and framework that reduce development time would in my view reduce energy usage and time of development. A best practices approach involving design for people and build for change is sign of green development. "Build for change" means developing applications that identify areas in which applications would change in future such as business rules for credit lending and designing the application in such a way that its easy to change those rules without changing code. In this regard XML Configuration files such as in .NET applications surely deserved to be flagged as green.

In my humble opinion,Green IT opportunities abound at all layers ( Infrastructure, middleware and Applications) through usage of proper hardware,software,packaging,recycling and sharing of best practices freely. Continuous Industrialisation of IT services delivery and automation can reduce energy consumption and promote a virtuous cycle of green kaizen.