Virtualization Pro

May 6 2008   3:50PM GMT

VMware’s convenient truth; virtualization lowers greenhouse gas emissions, power costs

Bridget Botelho Profile: Bridget Botelho

VMware, Inc. released a statement today pushing the point that consumers can significantly reduce CO2 emissions and data center power consumption using virtualization. The company reports that consolidating 10 or more physical machines onto a single server can reduce power consumption and costs by 80-90%. VMware customers that have moved from a 1:1 application to server ratio to 60:1 or higher have achieved millions of dollars in capital and operational savings.

Of course, 60:1 is a very high ratio, and most users report a 30:1 or 40:1 application to server ratio. That said, it can be done; a VMware case study on the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group shows the UK based company was able to consolidate 120 servers on two host machines, with two machines for disaster recovery purposes. VMware estimates that for every server virtualized, customers can save about 7,000 kilowatt hours (kWh), or four tons of CO2 emissions, every year. The virtualization giant has virtualized more than 6 million server workloads since 1998, resulting in an estimated energy savings of nearly 39 Billion kWh, or roughly $4.4 billion. This is roughly equivalent to the total energy consumption of Denmark for one year.

VMware reduces power and related costs by increasing server utilization rates and with power management capabilities that can power down servers when not in use. By powering down idle servers and desktops during inactive times, consumers can reduce power consumption by about 25%, according to VMware.

UK-based Sheffield Hallam University, for instance, implemented VMware Infrastructure 3 to reduce power and cooling requirements in the datacenter. Using VMware, they created 170 virtual machines, virtualizing over half of their servers. The virtual infrastructure at Sheffield Hallam runs 170 virtual machines at only 60,500 kilowatt-hours (kWh); this compares to the power required to run 170 physical machines, estimated at 686,000 kWh per year. In all, the company cut 269 tons of CO2 and saved £43,000 ($85,006.62 USD) on their annual power bills.

More information on how other companies have gone green and reduced costs using VMware virtualization is available on VMware’s website.

In addition, VMware works with utility companies including Pacific Gas and Electric and Austin Energy to provide cash incentives based on the amount of energy savings achieved through virtualization – which few data centers have taken advantage of so far.

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