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Going Green: How Softchoice is making an impact on the environment

Culture | Posted on April 22, 2013 by Nicole Bernard

To help reduce their carbon footprint, search-engine giant Google decided to scrap their lawn mowers and rent goats to munch on their lawns instead. Not only are these goats much more environmentally-friendly than lawn mowers, but as Google puts it, “goats are a lot cuter to watch!”

Softchoice hasn’t yet progressed to renting goats to do our landscaping, but we’re doing our part to take care of the environment with some other green initiatives. Being a technology provider, we know it’s important to look at how we can become more conscious of implementing more environmentally-aware practices when it comes to technology – after all, the IT industry produces the same carbon emissions as the airline industry, approximately 1 billion tonnes of Carbon Dioxide per year. While we may be excited about the technology advances we’ve seen recently (i.e. iPads, Google Maps, social media outlets), we have to be conscious of the amount of energy it takes to run the servers and infrastructure that support these tools.

Of course, while data centers can be obvious energy gorgers, there are ways that IT companies can run their centers to help reduce their carbon footprint. To find out how Softchoice is making our data center greener, I sat down with Softchoice IT Infrastructure Manager Lester Moniz. Lester explained the top 3 green IT initiatives that Softchoice has been focusing on recently:

  1. Consolidating Data Centers. Computing devices generate a lot of heat, and can overheat easily (think of the last time you talked on your cell-phone for twenty minutes; I bet it was hot against your ear by the end of the conversation!) The infrastructure within our data centers is no different; servers need to stay cool to run effectively, which means air conditioning requirements can quickly escalate (in fact, it’s one of the biggest power vacuums in the data center!) To help reduce the amount of power we use to run our air conditioners, Softchoice is consolidating data centers. For example, after our merger with Unis Lumin in 2011, Softchoice started migrating the apps running on Unis Lumin equipment to our core data center. Once the conversion is complete, we’ll be using considerably less air conditioning to cool one data center instead of multiple.
  2. Virtualization. Softchoice is proud to say that we’re currently 95% virtualized, and we’re striving to become 100% as soon as possible! This means we’re combining our physical servers in our data center, allowing for the support of multiple applications on a single machine. This reduces the amount of power we use (less servers = less power!) Not to mention, by virtualizing our applications, we’re reducing our power consumption for client devices (laptops, cell-phones and tablets), as there’s no need for each device to use more power to run applications locally.
  3. Reducing Power Requirements in our Data Center. Over the past year we’ve managed to reduce the power requirements in our data center by improving our virtual platform. As mentioned above, server virtualizing means we have fewer servers to power…and keep cool. Ultimately, this decreases the demand on our air conditioning, effectively reducing our carbon emissions!

If your company is looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint, it may be worthwhile for you to take a look at virtualizing your servers (if you haven’t already!) Talk to one of our Softchoice advisors or complete our Virtualization Assessment to see if it’s a logical step for your business!

If virtualization isn’t practical for your company, there are still simple things you can do around the office to practice green computing, such as:

  1. Powering off your computer at the end of the workday or when you won’t be using your computer for several hours.
  2. Changing your computer’s power management mode to automatically enter sleep mode rather than idle after a period of inactivity.
  3. Avoid using phantom power by unplugging your computer, cell-phone, and other devices when not in use. Even though a device is powered off, it will still be sucking energy if it’s plugged into an outlet.

These suggestions may seem small, but every little bit counts! This could be a great stepping stone in developing your own unique green initiative such as Google’s goat renting, allowing you to simultaneously help the environment and give your office a cool and unique image that could boost your workplace culture!

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