Application Development and Eco-Efficient IT

There’s been a lot of hype around the need for “Green IT” and how computing usage affects the environment. The 451 Group published an excellent report summarizing how IT impacts the environment and actually shows that IT’s greenhouse-gas contributions are relatively small when compared with other sources. However, its authors firmly believe that IT should assert its role as a positive force for change and embrace innovative technologies to improve energy efficiency across the enterprise.

According to VMware, there are between 2 and 5 application development servers for every production server deployed. Implementing a cloud-based virtual lab automation solution can dramatically reduce this ratio and improve energy efficiency and the environmental costs of manufacturing and disposing of servers. The combination of virtualization and a cloud-based service improves the situation in a number of ways:

  • Using virtualization improves server utilization and enables multiple server workloads to be consolidated onto a single machine. Voke, an analyst firm, estimates organizations can see 25-50% reduction in servers from using virtualization in a lab environment and a similar drop in energy consumption.
  • Using a cloud computing service rather than an in-house virtual lab can improve energy efficiency even further. Services such as Skytap Virtual Lab are based in datacenters where processing, storage and cooling systems are optimized for energy efficiency. These datacenters are usually much more efficient than server labs in a typical organization.
  • Finally, cloud computing can improve server utilization by enabling multiple organizations to share resources, so when an organization is’t using IT infrastructure, it is released back to the pool so another organization can utilize it. This not only increases energy efficiency, but also ensures organizations can easily handle peak demand for server capacity and no longer need underutilized ‘overflow’ servers on hand.

We’re sure there will be lots more hype around ‘Green IT’. However, it’s clear to us that the shift to virtualization and cloud computing can only improve energy efficiency and IT’s impact on the environment. Virtual lab automation is a great way for application development and test teams to move in this direction.

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