When IT managers consider consolidating their organisation’s IT hardware, the primary motivation often concerns freeing up data centre space or reducing management overheads. However, reducing the amount of hardware used in the data centre can also create a far greener network.
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Hardware appliances hosting individual network security applications have been multiplying in the data centre in response to the emergence of new forms of malicious attack. Security solutions have become one of the main culprits for filling up rack space and occupying administrative resources, with some organisations deploying up to 10 standalone appliances.
The power consumed by a company’s network security increases every time an appliance is deployed, and deployment of dual appliances in a high availability or clustered mode to ensure uptime and continuous operation is common. It’s easy to see how adding new security appliances can double or triple the level of power consumed to provide reliable network security, so this strategy can fall well short of a business’s stated environmental policies.
Another serious area of concern within green IT circles is the amount of raw materials consumed and discarded by the IT industry. Within three years most network appliances, which are often purpose built to support their vendor’s application, will reach end-of-life and cannot be reused as desktops, servers, or for new security products, resulting in a significant mass of physical waste.
At a time when IT departments are under intense scrutiny to be green, it is imperative that action is taken to mitigate the negative impact of a piecemeal network security infrastructure, while at the same time not compromising its effectiveness. By removing unnecessary hardware and consolidating on a single device that integrates all of the features that were offered by the standalone products, an organisation can not only save data centre space and reduce its administrative burden, but also cut energy consumption and hardware waste.
A unified threat management (UTM) approach to security offers just such a solution. The latest UTM appliances offer all types of network security on a single platform with an integrated management interface to ease administration. Some of the more innovative UTM vendors can also offer a virtualised UTM appliance. This means businesses can gain a further green advantage by deploying the solution on existing in-use hardware, removing the need to deploy extra appliances.
Embracing the advances in security technology represented by UTM within an IT security infrastructure can remove up to 10 wasteful point solutions. If this was fully realised, measured by power consumption alone, an IT manager would reduce the electrical consumption needed to power network security applications by up to 1,000 per cent. With that on offer, any company serious about green IT needs to take notice.
Andrew Fourie is UK country manager at Astaro