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Survey: Majority of Governments Aim to Reduce Energy Used for IT

Survey shows state and local governments reducing IT energy usage and a majority are paying close attention to energy efficiency.

by / November 12, 2010

A majority of governments have implemented programs to reduce energy consumed by IT or are planning to do so, according to technology vendor CDW-G’s third-annual Energy Efficient IT Report.

Data in the report was based largely on a survey the vendor hired public relations firm O’Keeffe and Company to conduct in July. Of the survey’s 756 respondents, 154 were state or local government IT professionals, and 62 percent of those respondents said they had developed or were developing programs to manage and reduce energy use in IT. Of that 62 percent, nearly two in three respondents said they had already reduced IT energy costs by 1 percent or more.

It isn’t clear if these numbers represent a year-over-year increase because 2010 was the first year the survey asked state and local governments these questions.
Data center consolidations often lead to reduced energy consumption, and 77 percent of state and local respondents either had or were developing data center consolidation strategies. However, reducing energy wasn’t the most common reason for consolidating data centers among respondents. Seventy-one percent of them identified reducing hardware, software and operational expenses as a top driver for consolidating, while 53 percent identified energy consumption as a top driver. Forty-six percent of state and local respondents saw increased “use of new and more efficient computing platforms and technologies” as a top motivation. Respondents were free to choose more than one top priority.
While 68 percent of state and local respondents were familiar with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Rating for Data Centers program, only 11 percent tracked data center power according to the Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) metric. Several government agencies and industries gathered in February to agree on the PUE as the preferred method for measuring data center energy efficiency, along with other standards. The PUE is a measurement of the total energy of a data center divided by the IT energy consumption, according to a document the group released announcing the consensus.

O’Keeffe and Company collected its results using a blind, national online survey of randomly selected IT professionals from five different industries, according to Krystal Jones, spokeswoman for O’Keeffe and Company. The survey instrument didn’t name CDW-G, and CDW-G customers were not solicited for the report, said Jones.
Energy efficient IT plays a significant role in CDW-G’s sales strategy, according to David Hutchins, director of state and local sales for CDW-G. “In some cases, agencies are able to use the savings from implementing energy efficient technology to fund other IT projects that will realize additional return on investment,” Hutchins said in an e-mail.

Of the 77 percent of state and local IT professionals that said they have or are developing a strategy for data center equipment consolidation:

  • 69 percent said that consolidating servers is included in their strategy for data center consolidation;
  • 68 percent identified virtualizing server and/or storage as part of their data center consolidation strategy; 
  • 32 percent said their data center consolidation strategy includes retiring unused or “ghost” servers; and
  • 31 percent noted that replacing old processors with low-power versions is included in their data center consolidation.

The percentage of state and local IT managers who believed energy efficiency was a very important consideration when purchasing new IT equipment increased from 28 percent in 2009 to 33 percent in 2010, said Jones. Also the percentage of state and local IT managers who said someone in their IT department received reports, authorized payment or otherwise had responsibility for the amount and cost of energy used increased from 39 percent in 2009 to 44 percent in 2010. Jones cautioned that those increases fell within the margin of error and were not statistically significant.



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Andy Opsahl

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

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