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Server virtualisation saves energy at Vanderbilt University

Joe O'Halloran

At Vanderbilt University, officials with Information Technology Services are using a server virtualisation strategy to dramatically reduce the rising energy demands caused by the computing needs of a large research university.

The sharing of servers maintained by ITS has meant that various portions of campus are increasing the security of their data and helping the university lower energy costs and its environmental footprint.

“There's a myth that everything on the Internet comes at no cost and gets better all the time," said Matthew Jett Hall, assistant vice chancellor for ITS at Vanderbilt. "The more physical servers we have, the more our power costs go up and the more our heat profile goes up. It's not very green.”

In the past year, ITS officials estimate that Vanderbilt began saving 20,575 watts per hour because of server virtualization for 35 percent of the servers they manage. Vanderbilt aims to increase that to 50% soon, and 75 or 80% as time goes on. Departments who maintain their own servers, who may have security, facility, or power concerns, are encouraged to take advantage of the server virtualisation service. 

Hall anticipates further steps to save energy, such as allowing the power of campus computers to be used for other purposes when individual workers aren't there to use it themselves.

"We know that if our campus is fully informed on the benefits of server virtualisation and other sensible environmental progress, they'll make the right decision," he said.


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