IBM's Project Big Green Takes Second Step

The goal of Project Big Green is to provide customers with high computing capacity in a smaller footprint while saving on power, cooling and space costs, Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM said.

According to IBM, the underpinnings of the second phase is the addition of three modular data centers to IBM's product line. The Enterprise Modular Data Center (EMDC) is standardized between 5,000 and 20,000 square feet and can be online three to six months sooner than traditional built-out data centers. The Modular High Density Zone (MHDZ) is a 200-square foot system that combines power and cooling with high-density servers that can provide up to 35 percent cost savings when compared to a new data center. The Portable Modular Data Center (PMDC) is a fully functional data center, complete with raised floors and protection from fire, smoke and temperature changes.

The second step of Project Big Green is designed to introduce new technologies that customers will be able to use in order address energy challenges in data centers, said Mike Daniels, senior vice president and group executive, IBM Global Technology Services.

"We're unveiling the most advanced green technologies and services to help clients become much more efficient in how they consume and pay for energy, not only in their data centers, but across all their operations," Daniels said.

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A modular data center may be the right move for a company that doesn't want to take on the additional cost of building out a data center, but is still looking for high computing efficiency, IBM said. Off setting costs and adding efficiency -- not just the fact that they are billed as green -- are driving IBM and its customers to adopt ecologically friendly products, said Gordon Haff, principal IT advisor of Illuminata, a Nashau, N.H.-based advisory firm.

"Very few companies are doing power efficiency or space efficiency because it is the ecologically right thing to do," said Haff. "In fact, in most cases, they aren't really doing it to decrease the power bill. What they are concerned about is when they run out of power and space. A lot of vendors are wrapping efficient power and cooling stories in Green because it's the fashionable thing to do."

Resellers are also encountering luke-warm responses from customers when mentioning the eco-friendly benefits of products, said Jay Tipton, vice president of Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Technology Specialists. The reasons are pretty straightforward: clients simply have a hard time getting past up-front costs.

"For my customers, heating, power and cooling doesn't come out of their budget, so they aren't taking them into account when they look at the data center," said Tipton.

Even though heating and power aren't the main concerns of Tipton's customers, when he outlines the savings that accompany blade servers and virtualization, for example, the customers may begin to come around. Ultimately, however, the accountants are the ones who have the final say in the matter.

"It's the upfront costs of these products. Can you lead a horse to water? Sure. Can you make it drink? Not really. The only other option is to hold their head underwater and drown them," said Tipton.