Singapore's transport authority to go green

update The Land Transport Authority aims to gain cost savings of 20 percent from reducing its energy consumption, in a new three-year agreement with IBM.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

update SINGAPORE--The Land Transport Authority (LTA) signed today a new three-year agreement with IBM to implement energy-efficient processes across its IT environment.

The partnership will see the LTA identify "hotspots" within its data center infrastructure where energy consumption can be reduced, according to Rosina Howe, LTA's group director of innovation and infocomm technology.

The authority is targeting to gain cost savings of at least 20 percent, though Howe said the LTA does not have a timeframe on when it plans to achieve that goal. This, she added, can only be determined after evaluating the IT infrastructure and establishing a proper strategy on how to deploy the new green initiative.

"Depending on what our diagnosis is, we may even be able to achieve the 20 percent cost savings within the first year of deployment and have that as a recurring yearly savings," she said. At the very least, that target will be achieved before the end of the new three year-agreement with IBM, she added.

According to Howe, the LTA's first foray into adopting environment-friendly processes started in 2002 when it launched an initiative to reduce its paper usage and digitize its workflow. This scheme paid off two years later, yielding annual cost savings of S$2.2 million (US$1.5 million), she said.

Under the new agreement with IBM, the LTA is hoping to extend these gains from improving its operational efficiencies to the agency's 10 data centers, she noted. These facilities support internal operations as well as services the LTA provides to the public, including Singapore's electronic road pricing (ERP) network, traffic management and e-services available on portals such as One.Motoring, she explained.

The number of servers in each of its 10 data centers ranges from 50 to 500, and the LTA will be looking to reduce its energy consumption across four phases:

  • implement infrastructure virtualization;
  • deploy power management software to improve energy efficiencies;
  • adopt liquid cooling technology on its IT systems; and
  • roll out green IT user policies.

    Alex Tay, regional services product line manager of site and facilities services, IBM Singapore, said power and cooling are the two most costly expenditures in managing a data center.

    Citing figures from an IDC report, Tay noted that by 2009, the cost of powering and cooling will exceed the amount spent on purchasing the servers in data centers.

    He said that IBM focuses on three key areas--cooling, IT systems management and power--to help its customers reduce their energy consumption.

    Diagnose first, then implement
    Based on methodology outlined in IBM's Project Big Green, the LTA's energy saving program is expected to be rolled out in the first quarter of 2008 following a "comprehensive, fact-based analysis" of the agency's IT infrastructure, according to the two companies.

    Teresa Lim, managing director of IBM Singapore, said Big Blue will provide diagnostic and consulting services, and advise the LTA on best practices in building green IT facilities.

    Michael Seow, LTA's director of IT infrastructure services and planning, noted that the exercise will not involve the replacement of existing IT systems with more environment-friendly products.

    Instead, the primary objective is to assess how its current data center infrastructure layout can be tweaked and redesigned so energy consumption can be optimized, Seow explained.

    Howe added that once the implementation strategy is established, the LTA may decide to call for tenders if the scale of the project is large enough to warrant doing so.

    She noted that government agencies in Singapore are required to open sizeable projects for tender, and allow external parties to submit bids.

    However, she added that IBM won a contract in June 2007 to manage the LTA's IT and data center infrastructures. Under the agreement, the IT vendor committed to continue introducing "innovative" new technology to the agency's IT environment, Howe said.

Editorial standards