FAQ: Green IT services and virtualization technology in the data center

Expert Greg Schulz answers questions about green IT services and virtualization technology in the data center in this FAQ and podcast.

Greg Schulz, Resilient Storage Networks author
Most customers don't fully comprehend the logistics of green IT services and virtualization technology in the data center. As a result, the knowledge and expertise of value-added resellers (VARs) is invaluable. Solutions providers must be able to recommend green IT services and virtualization technology that will complement customers' infrastructure and accommodate their budgets. In this FAQ guide, expert Greg Schulz answers frequently asked questions about these services in the data center. Learn how green IT can provide cost-saving benefits and how virtualization technology offers more than just server consolidation.

Listen to Greg Schulz answer other frequently asked questions about green IT services and virtualization technology in the data center in this related podcast.

How can channel professionals use green IT services to make money in tough economic conditions?
Where does software fit into green IT services?
What other virtualization technology opportunities exist besides consolidation?
Do green IT services and green computing only apply to large businesses?
What are some key takeaways and action plans for channel professionals?

How can channel professionals use green IT services to make money in tough economic conditions?

First and foremost is to break down the "green gap." The green gap describes when customers say they have no green mandates, but then they turn around and say they have power, cooling, floor-space, environmental and recycling concerns, or that they need to boost productivity and efficiency to sustain business growth despite smaller budgets. The key for VARs and other solutions providers is asking the right questions, speaking the right language and being aware of the right issues , and then mapping the applicable technologies, services and solutions to their tasks and needs.

Where does software fit into green IT services?

Virtualization technology software is a key technology because it can enable server consolidation, data migration, data or server movement, technology upgrades, load balancing and maintenance. Business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) are also important. And don't forget about tools that provide cross-technology domain management and help manage BC/DR on virtual and physical servers.

Other useful tools and services to keep in mind include insight or situational-awareness technologies, which provide information about IT resource utilization. For example, it's one thing to know that servers or storage are under-utilized. But insight into response time, performance and availability are also important to avoid negatively affecting quality of service and application stability. After all, you can't effectively manage what you don't know about.

What other virtualization technology opportunities exist besides consolidation?

For a variety of reasons, not all servers or storage can be consolidated. Solutions providers can leverage virtualization technology to enable BC/DR or to help customers with regular maintenance, upgrades and technology replacements. Advanced applications can include load balancing, high availability and data movement and migration. Demonstrate your value by identifying new opportunities beyond consolidation, as opposed to following the herd and looking for the next consolidation play.

Sure, you want to be looking for the low-hanging fruit, which has been consolidation. But many of those trees, at least the lower branches, have been picked. Why not go a bit further up the tree and look for other opportunities? Does your client have servers that can't be consolidated? Show the value of installing VMware for management purposes. Does your client have storage that can't be consolidated? Show how to boost the number of transactions, messages, videos and email while using less power.

Do green IT services and green computing only apply to large businesses?

Organizations of all sizes can benefit from the efficiency and flexibility that results from green IT and green computing, both from an economic as well as an environmental perspective.

What are some key takeaways and action plans for channel professionals?

Look beyond normal green IT messaging. Identify with your customers what their issues are and how efficiency and productivity can help sustain business growth. Improve customers' quality of service, performance, availability, capacity and energy efficiency. Look beyond consolidation to how they can use virtualization technology for business agility -- not to mention how RAM, flash SSD and other performance-enhancing technologies can get more work done faster.

Also, keep in mind that fast servers need fast networks, I/O and storage. If slow resources are available, the expensive servers will spend more time waiting instead of doing productive work. Gain insight by helping your customers with assessments and monitoring tools. Don't abandon old and proven technology that your customers will still buy, such as tape for long-term data protection. But strike a balance with new and emerging technologies, like data deduplication.

About the expert
Greg Schulz is founder of The StorageIO Group, an IT consulting firm. He has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant and capacity planner for various IT organizations and also worked for several vendors before joining an analyst firm and later forming StorageIO. In addition, Schulz is a prolific writer, blogger and speaker who regularly appears at conferences and other events around the world. He is the author of "The Green and Virtual Data Center" and "Resilient Storage Networks".
This was first published in March 2009

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