Chicago CIO Hardik Bhatt Describes City's Green IT Strategy

Data center consolidation and cooling changes cut energy consumption and save money.

by / January 4, 2009

Photo: Hardik Bhatt, CIO of Chicago

Government IT workers in the Windy City were green before they knew it, according to Hardik Bhatt, CIO of Chicago. He discussed with Government Technology how the city's IT team freed up power during a recent data center consolidation, and how that strategy led Chicago's forthcoming green IT agenda.

Describe your green IT strategy.

We want to do a focused push on green IT. We are combining all of the projects that directly or indirectly contribute to green IT. It could be server consolidation, server virtualization, data center transformation - those are direct projects. Our mobile [computing] push has also contributed indirectly to green IT. We have about 15 things we're going to focus on in terms of contributing to green IT.

Is server consolidation your primary green strategy?

Absolutely. Last year, we were in a situation in which our data center was almost out of power. Instead of adding power, we looked at our existing data center configuration. We had a lot of old mainframe cable below our raised floor that was obstructing the flow of air. The servers were not placed in the right places. We took out all of the useless cable to clear the area for air to flow; we moved all of our network cables on top. We also moved the servers in such a way that the airflow directly cools the server from the front. We created cool aisles and heat aisles. After doing all of this, we don't need extra power. Actually our server room now has more capacity and more servers. So without any expense, we've transformed the data center.

Is it reasonable to pursue green policies solely for the sake of being green?

Green IT makes a lot of sense because green saves you "green" -- saves you dollars. We started greening IT before we even knew we were greening IT because the whole effort started with cost savings and efficiency. It just turned out that it was greening the IT.

Do green initiatives need to work on multiple levels?

If a green initiative contributes to a large extent, in terms of saving energy, saving paper, waste management and everything else, it definitely makes sense to do it. At the same time, if it saves you dollars, it's an added benefit.


Andy Opsahl

Andy Opsahl is a former writer and features editor for Government Technology magazine.

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