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Data Center Energy Efficiency Needs To Include Software And Networking, Expert Says

Enterprises have made great strides in improving the energy efficiency of processors, servers and storage technology, but an expert on eco-friendly IT says that attention also has to be paid to networking equipment and the addition of power management features to software. Lori Wigle, president of the IT industry-led Climate Savers Computing Initiative, spoke at a CIO conference on data center efficiency and cloud computing held last week near San Francisco.

The initiative was co-founded by Intel and Google, and includes tech industry giants such as Microsoft, VMware and Cisco Systems, as well as Dell and Samsung, which were co-sponsors of the conference. The group's goal is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions attributed to data center operations by 54 million tons a year. So far, the 4-year-old organization has reduced them by 32 million tons, says Wigle, who is also general manager of eco-technology at Intel.

The initiative’s mission is to address power delivery to data centers and introduce power management to software, she says. The group pushes vendors to make more energy-efficient products and gets buyers to pledge to purchase IT based on its energy efficiency.

"We haven’t done a good enough job of working with the application vendors, whether they're the big ISVs [independent software vendors] or even the software that you develop internally for your businesses," she says. "We’ve started reaching out to software developers as another audience to educate them on what it means to have energy-smart software."

While significant improvements in server energy efficiency have been realized, primarily through the adoption of virtualization and the development of energy-efficient processors, networking equipment needs to improve, too, Wigle says. Networking equipment "hasn’t had as much focus historically," she says, adding that a group within the initiative, including Cisco and Juniper Networks, is focusing on that issue.

"These are arch-rivals working together," she notes. HP, which increased its competitive pressure on market leader Cisco in networking, is not in the network equipment group, but is a member of the initiative, she says.

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