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Innovation

Green IT tips for small businesses: Analysys moves data center offsite for big power savings

Many of us who write about green technology issues often get dinged for focusing just on case studies that involve BIG companies. So, here's some information about a much more modestly sized company in Baltimore that was able to get greener AND save a bunch of money on its power costs, by moving the majority of its data center equipment offsite.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

Many of us who write about green technology issues often get dinged for focusing just on case studies that involve BIG companies. So, here's some information about a much more modestly sized company in Baltimore that was able to get greener AND save a bunch of money on its power costs, by moving the majority of its data center equipment offsite.

First, let me say that servers for this company are its livelihood. Analysys is a managed services provider with approximately 40 employees that provides IT services to small and midsize businesses. Right now, it runs about four servers that are used on behalf of its clients; another two are in its office. Previously, however, the company was running 20 servers in its primary office location, and therein lies their story, says Stephen Kolbe, president of the company.

Back in January 2009, when Kolbe was looking at reducing overal operational costs for his team, he looked carefully at his server infrastructure. Immediately, he saw an opportunity to virtualize, which would enable him to devote more of his technical team to customer-facing activities, rather than ministering to its server hardware. Then he began thinking of the potential money he could save in electricity costs, not just for the servers themselves but for the back-up systems and the heating air condition and ventilation (HVAC) equipment. That's when Analysys began measuring its power consumption methodically, using Kill-A-Watt meters.

"People think that reducing power consumption requires a premium cost, and it doesn't," Kolbe says. "This is a great opportunity a more positive spin on the message."

So, here's the bottom line on how Analysys's actions improved its green IT profile:

And, here's what it cost, up-front, for the company to get to this place:

  • IT staff costs for moving the equipment: Roughly $2,400 for 40 hours per of services work (at $60 per hour)
  • The company used existing Hewlett-Packard servers to virtualize with Microsoft Virtualization technology, so the only equipment investments were two Kill-A-Watt meters and 20 Belkin Conserve surge protectors, which are priced at $35 each. SonicWall VPN and firewall technology was critical for Analysys ability to access and protect the offsite technology, while allowing employees quick remote access
  • The renewable energy credits that Analysys purchased in order to claim carbon-neutrality were $1,000. Analysys works with a company called Clean Currents for this part of its operational costs; it buys wind power from the organization. The net savings per month attributable to the switch to wind power are $185 per month.
  • The company does have to pay MORE in Internet connectivity and rack space in order to pull this off. This translates into $492 per month.

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