Going greener with virtualization
Going green is no longer a sign of good planetary citizenship. As nonrenewable resources become scarcer and energy costs skyrocket, taking a green approach to IT management is simply good business — not to mention the only way to address federal and state mandates intended to mitigate the issue.
IT arguably takes the biggest hit, with energy consumption in the datacenter reaching all-time highs and with proliferating computer hardware fated to become e-waste. For every kilowatt of energy consumed by a server, roughly another kilowatt is used to cool that same server. Multiply that by the growing number of servers needed to accommodate transit IT expansion and the impact can be staggering for transportation and transit authorities. Conservation of electricity, space and equipment seems to work at cross-purposes with essential functions and missions.
By making virtualization solutions the backbone of the technology infrastructure, green initiatives can be addressed in a way that also improves performance across the entire IT environment. The properly implemented virtualization solution can provide two meaningful green benefits: reduction of the datacenter’s carbon footprint and longer lifecycles for end devices. The best waste is to have none at all.
Shrinking the datacenter’s carbon footprint
The move toward IT centralization and consolidation has created a power surge in the datacenter. The bulk of energy consumption lies in running the servers, air conditioning and peripherals at the heart of the IT infrastructure. As a green IT solution, virtualization reduces the number of physical servers and optimizes existing servers to improve performance while cutting the power needed to operate, cool and maintain datacenter equipment.
Creating longer, greener desktop lifecycles
The desktop can present a bigger green IT challenge. With a single network server supporting about 200 devices, energy consumption in the datacenter will escalate as these machines continue to proliferate. Each end device draws a lot of power on its own, even when in sleep or standby mode. And more powerful machines consume more energy. The cradle-to-grave environmental impact of end devices poses another concern, especially when it comes to replacing and disposing of obsolete machines every two years or so. With desktop virtualization, however, desktops last longer and can be replaced by less costly and more energy-efficient thin clients as part of an extended lifecycle.
Managing access and protecting data in the virtual environment
Secure access to transportation data and applications means protecting the IT network from both unintentional and malicious events. In recent years, professional hackers have not been behind the biggest government security breaches involving sensitive information; instead, lost or stolen laptops, or even inadvertent downloads, have been the culprit. This creates a delicate balancing act as IT departments work to protect their networks and their sensitive data while delivering access to that same information for people who need a fast, robust end-user experience.
Enter the virtualization solution. End-to-end virtualization means that computing occurs only at the server level. The data that the end user sees onscreen never resides on the desktop or other end device. From a data perspective, that desktop or laptop is disposable — a theft or loss does not threaten any data because everything resides safely in the datacenter.
Due to the number of outside contractors employed for transit projects, transportation IT networks can be particularly vulnerable to accidental malware events or even intentional download of non-agency-approved software. Already taxed IT departments can be overwhelmed by the Herculean task of managing access for contractors that come and go on a weekly basis. Virtualization, however, gives IT administrators a single point of control. Organizations can manage access and actions based on both the user and also the end device, providing better risk, security and compliance management.