IBM Aims To Make Big Computing Greener
In a sign that environmental sensibilities are informing business strategies,
IBM Corp. is spending $1 billion to spread technologies and services that could
make corporate computing centers more energy efficient.
Under an initiative that IBM executives intend to announce at an event Thursday
in New York, the company will reoutfit the "data centers" it operates
and help its customers redo their own with multiple power-saving approaches.
Data centers are huge, humming banks of servers that process transactions,
serve up Web pages and store information. Because of all the electricity and
air conditioning those computers need, data centers can be energy hogs.
IBM -- which has pledged, like several other big companies, to reduce its greenhouse
gas emissions -- is a leading data center operator, with more than 8 million
square feet of these computing warehouses worldwide.
Among the ways IBM expects to make data centers greener is through heavier
use of "virtualization" technologies, which let one computer handle
the operations of multiple machines. IBM also plans to deploy more "provisioning
software" that increases the time that servers switch to power-saving standby
mode. And it expects to launch new liquid-cooling systems that capture power
in off-peak times and store it for peak use.
The $1 billion is being reallocated from other purposes and is not an increase
in the company's investment or capital expenditure plans. Even so, IBM is expected
to call this a massive effort that reflects how energy issues are a higher priority
for its customers.
Forrester Research analyst Christopher Mines said the initiative reflects the
fact for an increasing number of companies, environmental responsibility now
is "an input to business strategy rather than just being an output."
"I think this is a strong effort by IBM to pull the pieces together,"
Mines said. "People are aware of the environmental impact of their IT [information-technology]
shop, but many of them aren't doing anything about it so far. I think that's
going to change."