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Allstate: Reduces nearly 3,000 servers or devices in 18 months

Smart ideas that promise savings get a quick green light at this insurance provider, ranked No. 4.

By Mary K. Pratt
October 24, 2011 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Allstate Insurance has been pursuing energy-saving initiatives for several years, and it has seen a cumulative energy reduction of about 40% through more efficient data center operations and the use of virtualization, according to Anthony Abbattista, senior vice president of technology solutions.

The Northbrook, Ill.-based insurance provider uses a business-case approach to deploying various energy-saving projects concurrently, Abbattista says. "If an idea made sense and had the right fiscal savings model, we implemented it," he says.

Promoters of greener data center operations use business cases to persuade Allstate's real estate group and the rest of the company "to get behind our actions," Abbattista says. "We are a collection of socially conscious engineers and business people who have passion for doing things green."

Over the past 18 months, Allstate has made significant progress in its green data center effort, which consolidated the company's four data centers into two. Combining eco-friendly construction with energy-efficient operations, a new data center in Rochelle, Ill., received LEED Gold certification in 2010.

By constructing an energy-efficient data center, virtualizing its server environment and replacing older equipment with more energy-efficient hardware, Allstate has significantly reduced its carbon footprint and future energy demand. The company considers energy efficiency in all of its hardware purchasing decisions, and constantly monitors energy consumption and efficiency while finding new opportunities to further reduce demand through virtualization and by retiring older, less efficient hardware.

The decommissioning of the company's last remaining legacy data center was completed in November 2010, and over the past 18 months, there has been a net reduction of nearly 3,000 servers or devices.

Green Tomorrow

Allstate is in the early stages of an enterprisewide initiative in which it will transition from an IT setup where processing and data storage is distributed and managed across PCs to a model where a consolidated cloud resides in data centers and is securely accessible from any location. The company's objective is to simplify the client computing environment to make it more energy efficient and cut costs.

Allstate is placing greater emphasis on energy efficiency through efforts to limit the growth of electricity usage. Recently, the company began a series of upgrades to more energy-efficient systems. It's also switching from physical tape to virtual tape and to storage systems that need less hardware than older systems.

In addition, the company is continually expanding its Web technology capabilities to significantly reduce travel between offices -- not only locally, but nationwide as well. Large Allstate events are now broadcast via streaming video, allowing employees to view events live from any PC with an Internet connection. For most daily meetings, conference bridges and webconferencing capabilities, including videoconferencing, are enabled so that remote employees can participate.

Next: No. 5: NBC Universal retires and recycles 47 tons of hardware

Read more about Data Center in Computerworld's Data Center Topic Center.

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