The need for green IT

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The federal government needs to make its technology more energy efficient, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., said at a Nov. 20 event on next-generation data centers hosted by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation.

A panel of four data center experts discussed the uses for technology to cut the U.S. carbon footprint and reduce operation costs.

“We are transforming atoms into bits…atoms take up a lot more energy,” said Robert Atkinson, president of ITIF.

Between 2000 and 2006, data center energy use doubled, according to Eric Masanet, professor of materials and manufacturing at Northwestern University.

Today, power usage has dropped dramatically due to extremely efficient servers, most of which are enterprise class.

But, nonenterprise class data centers still have the ability to cut energy use by 80 to 90 percent, Masanet said.

Companies such as Lockheed Martin are already taking steps to do this by consolidating their centers. The company went from 43 data centers to five in five years, according to Cathy Snyder, vice president of energy and environment government relations for Lockheed Martin.

“The biggest challenge agencies have is working capital, large sums of money needed to make investments [in centers,]” Snyder said of the government’s ability to accomplish the same goal.

In the meantime, the government can apply best practices for reducing data center energy consumption, Masanet said.

He also suggested shifting core programs such as email to public or private cloud-based centers and replacing old technology to save energy.

The next stage for environmental friendliness is changing the manufacturing process of servers to reduce hazardous chemicals in electronics and use less power.

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Anna Eshoo, Congress, Government IT News, ITIF, Robert Atkinson, Tech