Citigroup: Desktop standardization cuts energy costs

A push to close data centers has exceeded goals and helped lower energy costs at this financial giant, ranked No. 8.

New York-based financial services firm Citigroup began a strategic data center transformation in 2005, with the goal of reducing its data centers from 68 to 24 by the end of 2010. Citi not only met that goal, but exceeded it by cutting down to 22 data centers.

All of the Citi data centers are designed with energy efficiency as a priority. For example, Citi's newly constructed data center in Georgetown, Texas, uses 800 kilowatts less power than conventional data centers with the same footprint, for a 30% reduction in energy costs. The facility also emits less carbon and consumes less water.

Other green-IT efforts include a desktop standardization initiative that has simplified and standardized Citi's global desktop environment of more than 260,000 PCs and laptops. The result is an incremental $6 million per year in energy savings and a 3% reduction in carbon footprint.

The company's policy requires that all new servers be virtual, unless physical servers are justified, reducing power and cooling requirements by 73%.

Citi's North America Client Computing Technology Asset Management group, formed in 2008, processes more than 80,000 "disposals" annually. Citi works only with vendors that have a "zero landfill disposal" policy.

In 2010, e-waste recycling generated more than $800,000 in remunerations from the recovery work.

Last year, Citi also launched the One Megawatt Challenge to change the traditional server access connectivity in data centers to network switches. The company estimates it can reduce the need for copper wiring by as much as 80%, reduce its computing footprint by as much as 50% and potentially reduce the number of racks needed. With fewer cables running under the raised floor, the air used to cool the equipment will be able to flow more freely, further reducing energy consumption and costs.

By making an explicit commitment in 2007 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Citi was one of the first global financial services companies to publicly join the fight to slow climate change and reduce energy dependence.

"I can't emphasize enough that sustainable IT is about smart and strategic approaches to achieving operational excellence," says Michelle Erickson, director of the sustainability and research initiative in Citi's Global Operations and Technology unit. "A well-run and efficient organization is a green organization."

Next: No. 9: Nixon Peabody swaps out 300 physical servers for 30 VMware ESX servers

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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