Northrop Grumman: Virtualizing 3,000 servers

This defense firm, ranked No. 7, emphasizes sustainability, and the IT team plays a pivotal role.

Northrop Grumman set an important environmental goal in 2010: to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by about 25% over the next five years. And

IT will play a key role in getting there.

"IT is a large consumer of power, equipment and consumables, and as such, IT will continue to be a focus in our company's sustainability [efforts]," says Brad Furukawa, vice president and chief technology officer.

The technology staff at the Falls Church, Va.-based aerospace and defense company has focused on such issues since announcing its "greeNG" sustainability program in 2008, and it launched several important green initiatives last year.

Its desktop program, for example, calls for deploying PCs, laptops and peripherals that are ranked either Gold or Silver by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool.

It also implemented desktop power management to automatically put its PCs, laptops and monitors into lower power states when not in use -- a program that will be deployed enterprisewide by the end of 2012.

And IT started a data center consolidation program, moving more than 100 server rooms and major data centers to three enterprise data centers. This effort could lead to the elimination of more than 26 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually. Similarly, IT is virtualizing or retiring approximately 3,000 servers, which will cut the company's server environment by 80%.

"Our energy strategies are integrated into our architecture guidance and processes," Furukawa says. "Utilizing technologies that address environmental impact, such as virtualization, and incorporating them into our architecture tenets and enterprise standards, we are able to integrate and drive our strategy down to our system architects and engineers in the design and development of our solutions."

To that end, Furukawa's staff has provided a range of tools to enable the entire organization to better understand the company's environmental impact. IT deployed the ENX Suite greenhouse gas accounting system to track emissions and is integrating an energy management system with the tool. IT has also set up an internal wiki and other collaborative spaces where employees can share information on their green efforts.

IT leadership is also looking at replacing conventional desktops with more power-efficient thin-client devices and building private cloud computing capabilities. Virtualized servers, virtual desktops and virtual firewall technology require less energy than conventional computing environments.

Next: No. 8: Citigroup standardizes desktops to cut energy costs by $6 million per year

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