Demystifying Virtualization: Dramatically Reduce IT Energy Consumption, and Improve the Business of Government

Did you know that the average desktop computer uses almost as much power when idle as when it’s active?

And the problem isn’t just restricted to the desktop. There are literally thousands of data centers across the globe stacked to capacity with inefficient, underutilized computer servers. In 2006, in the United States alone, datacenters consumed $4.5 billion worth of electricity!

And here’s another fact, even when a desktop or a server is in use, these machines only utilize somewhere between 8-15 percent of their total capacity. Put it this way, it’s a bit like boiling 10 cups of water when you only need 1½ cups – over and over all day long.

To put it mildly, energy consumption and desktop/server under-utilization has become a critical issue for those who deliver information technology (IT) services to government agencies, businesses, and consumers across the world.

But it doesn’t have to be this way!

80 percent of the energy costs involved in operating computer servers can be reduced through a technology called “virtualization”.

What is Virtualization?

Virtualization is a proven software technology that is rapidly transforming the Federal IT landscape and fundamentally changing the way Federal personnel compute.

At the heart of the problem of energy consumption in data centers is that today’s powerful x86 data center computer hardware is designed primarily to run a single operating system and a single application – leaving most machines vastly underutilized.

But what if you could consolidate all these underutilized machines into a smaller, more energy efficient pool of resources?

Virtualization does exactly this by enabling multiple operating systems to run on a single physical machine, sharing the resources of that single computer across multiple environments and users.

With virtualization solutions, virtual machines can run different operating systems and multiple applications on the same physical computer – increasing hardware utilization by as much as 85 percent and achieving potential consolidation ratios of 15:1. The impact of this model is dramatic, and it has been proven again and again in a variety of U.S. Federal government and Department of Defense settings.

And it’s not just data centers that benefit from virtualization, desktop computers can also be virtualized. Thin clients consume far less energy and don’t need to be replaced as frequently.

Why is Virtualization Good for the Business of Government?

There is a lot of talk about the benefits of “green IT” – and the dramatic increases in energy efficiency resulting from virtualization are clear. Quite simply, fewer devices consume less electricity, require less cooling and ventilation and take up less real estate – and the math proves it.

But equally as important are the benefits virtualization delivers to the business of Government. Computing demands have grown at such an intense rate since the run up to the fabled Y2K, that many Federal and DoD data centers have reached the point where they can no longer spend money to solve the problem. New ways of delivering computing services to users must be adapted into the existing enterprise in order to maintain
the appropriate service levels, whatever each organization determines those to be.

So, for example, if a federal agency consolidated x86 servers in their primary data center at a ratio of 2:1 (a small feat among VMware customers), the result could be up to a 50% reduction in power, space and cooling costs. When you apply this hypothetical scenario to a U.S. Navy ship or a forward-deployed U.S. Army unit, the results aren’t just ‘nice to have’, they’re absolutely mission critical.

In the U.S. Federal government, VMware virtualization solutions are run by all 15 Executive Branch agencies, all DoD agencies, services and joint commands, and throughout both the Legislative and Judicial branches.

And despite this pervasive use of VMware solutions throughout the U.S. Federal government and Department of Defense, only a fraction of the possible benefits of virtualization has been realized.

What you can do to Save Energy in the Government Workplace

And making a difference to government energy consumption is in fact a collective responsibility.
Based on the simple premise of making a difference – one kilowatt at a time, the VMware Government Energy Challenge encourages government employees to join the VMware Federal team in committing to saving more energy in the workplace every day during the 30 days leading up to Earth Day on April 22.

Simple acts make a difference. Turn a light off when you leave a conference room or put your PC into sleep mode if you aren’t using it for more than two hours.

If you are ready to make a difference, sign-up to join the VMware Government Energy
Challenge today.

Join the fun! Look out for updates, blog posts, and reports on the energy saving steps and successes achieved across government in the coming weeks!

Let’s make a difference – one kilowatt at a time!


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