Allstate Insurance Co.

Four data centers were rolled into two, saving about $65 million.

Allstate Insurance Co. has had green initiatives in place for a number of years, including telework programs, videoconferencing systems, an in-house printing plant and printer-cartridge recycling efforts. But what has really moved the company into the front ranks of green-IT organizations is an ambitious effort started in 2006 to consolidate four data centers into two. The two centers will draw 6 megawatts of energy instead of the 27 megawatts that the old centers would have sucked up if left to grow naturally.

Brandi Landreth, director of data center strategy, says the new centers will cost $55 million, or $65 million less than what would have been spent to build out the old centers under then-existing processes and footprints. "Green for green," she calls the cost savings.

Server consolidation is a big part of the plan. Allstate started that project in 2003 because it was running out of floor space in its old data centers, says Anthony Abbattista, vice president of technology solutions. The company will see at least a 7-to-1 reduction in physical servers from this effort, but it hopes to go as high as a 12-to-1 reduction, he says.

Beyond the new data centers, green programs abound. One takes the form of an in-house printing plant, the biggest such plant in the country, according to Allstate. It works with internal users, such as the billing department, to minimize the material used in mailings and to ensure that as much paper is recycled as possible.

What's next? "The next big frontier is the desktop," Abbattista says. The idea is to move computer resources -- hardware, software and data -- from the desktop to the data center, where they can be shared.

Next: No. 4: Citigroup educates users on the carbon cost of electronic storage

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon