The 5 quickest returns on your green investment

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Try data deduplication

Data deduplication uses algorithms to dramatically compress the amount of storage space needed. Many organizations are dealing with increased scrutiny of electronically stored information because of various regulations, and this is driving significant growth in demand for storing large sets of data. Depending on the type of information being compressed, deduplication can enable a compression rate of between 3:1 and 10:1, allowing businesses to reduce their need for additional storage equipment and associated tapes and disks. Many businesses are already using the technology.

Rust Consulting, a Minneapolis-based independent claims adjustor, experienced several years of 40% revenue growth. Its resulting storage platform derailed the IT department with days-long backup windows. Adding new arrays of tape libraries would be costly, and would require additional data center floor space and energy resources, says Tim Holtan, systems analyst at Rust.

Instead, Rust deployed a disk backup and replication appliance from Quantum with deduplication technology. The platform, which was deployed a year ago, has allowed the company to see a near 90% reduction in disk capacity, and dramatically reduce its backup effort and its need to purchase tape.

"We're getting compression rates of 30-to-1 on database stuff, and 16-to-1 on our regular file system," Holtan says. "Purchasing more and more tape gets to be very expensive, and you've got to have somewhere to store it and access the information when needed."

Look for rebates and incentives

More utility providers are offering rebates or other incentives that encourage businesses to update equipment and adopt efficient operational practices that can help reduce peak and total power demands. Companies doing this include Pacific Gas and Electric in San Francisco and Austin Energy in Austin, Texas.

CDW Berbee has experienced fast growth as a provider of managed services. Demands on its data centers in Madison, Wis., and Minneapolis increased so rapidly that in addition to an increase in power usage, the company began experiencing floor temperatures of 80 degrees.

"Five years ago, I stayed up nights worrying about how space constraints would hinder my business and data center growth," says Wayne Rasmussen, data center manager at CDW Berbee. "But with form factors shrinking, concerns about space were replaced by concerns about heat density & [and] because of technology changes my old data center was in effect out of capacity with only two-thirds of the actual floor space being used."

Rasmussen installed Emerson Network Power's Liebert XDH horizontal row supplemental cooling system and has been able to stabilize floor temperatures, as well as save 11 kilowatts per hour in operational cost. This resulted in a rebate of $1,725 from CDW Berbee's energy provider, Excel Energy.

For a company the size of Sun, where more than 125,000 square feet of operating data center was eliminated, the incentives can be even higher. Sun's Monroe estimates the company has received nearly $1 million in utility incentives as a result of its consolidation effort.

"The power companies don't want to have to build all the new capacity that may be required to keep all these new and growing data centers in operation," he says. "Everyone has ended up happy. The facilities guys didn't have to build as much space, the IT organization and engineering groups got new equipment that was smaller, cooler and faster than before, and the power company was happy to eliminate a big chunk of demand."

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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