Wells Fargo team shares green tech tips for the data center

In my quest to uncover practical information about what real data center managers are doing to decrease their energy consumption, for real, I recently spoke with two executives from Wells Fargo’s Technology Information Group (TIG).Scott Dillon, executive vice president and CTO for Enterprise Hosting Services, and Bob Culver, vice president of TIG, are both responsible for enhancing the financial services company’s green technology profile.

In my quest to uncover practical information about what real data center managers are doing to decrease their energy consumption, for real, I recently spoke with two executives from Wells Fargo’s Technology Information Group (TIG).

Scott Dillon, executive vice president and CTO for Enterprise Hosting Services, and Bob Culver, vice president of TIG, are both responsible for enhancing the financial services company’s green technology profile. Here are some of the specific actions they’ve taken for their data centers in Minnesota, Arizona, California and Iowa.

- Taken advantage of free cooling. Wells Fargo installed a water-side economizer at its Minnesota data center, which was built about two years ago. This added about $1 million to the construction costs. It includes a cooling tower located outside combined with a “shell and tube” heat exchanger. This system has provided a 15 percent reduction in energy use, since at least four months out of the year, the chilly Minnesota winter air really helps cool things down inside the data center. Next up: The team is looking into how to ensure that the water used in the cooling tower is 100 percent recycled.

- Bought bigger air-conditioning units: Wells Fargo invested in super-precise units that can better control humidity, which has the effect of helping eliminate heat pockets.

- Increased hardware utilization: By using various virtualization technologies (Wells Fargo supports more than 1,000 virtual server instances), the financial services company has eliminated 10 percent to 15 percent of the server hardware it supports. This percentage is increasing this quarter-by-quarter, and storage virtualization and desktop virtualization programs are also kicking in to build on the server virtualization foundation. Utilization is up around 70 percent for servers (from 30 percent). Dillon feels there may be even strong potential for power savings related to better data lifecycle management.

- Looking to the sun. In Arizona, Wells Fargo is researching solar power panels in order to save energy. Nothing specific to report yet.

Where does the Wells Fargo team get all these ideas to help improve its green tech profile? Actually, the company has created an innovation exchange (formerly called the Innovation Stock Exchange and discussed here, which has been the inspiration for 25 to 30 of its ongoing initiatives. “We believe there is an absolute ROI to all these ideas: How do we increase our compute power while reducing our footprint,” Dillon says.