Going green with storage

Usage is as important as procurement when targeting energy efficiency benefits

Being "green" might be the latest trend in business, but simply buying environmentally friendly storage products does not mean you are doing all you can to help the environment. Indeed, you could be doing more harm than good. Assessing how you can reduce your carbon footprint needs to go much deeper than that, and must run through both the procurement and lifecycle of a product.

Buying green

There are many environmentally friendly products, from cars to light bulbs. Take the Toyota Prius as an example. Marketed as a green vehicle, buying it is just one step to doing your bit - the usage of the car is more important. Buying three Prius does not make you three times more environmentally friendly either!

If you are really looking to go green, assessing the procurement process of storage products needs to be your first priority. Manufacturing of kit can account for a large percentage of its carbon emissions. So if you are simply buying a new storage product because it is labelled "green" and not because you need the additional capabilities or capacity, not only is this an unnecessary expense, it also means more carbon emissions are produced in the process.

Understanding this aspect of the product lifecycle is therefore extremely important in assessing the green credentials of a purchase.

Efficiency = green

Where real savings can be made is in the use of storage devices. Efficiency and being green go hand in hand, and what many people fail to realise is that just by being more efficient, carbon emissions attributed to a product can be reduced.

The deployment of a product is therefore just as important as buying something labelled as green. If you buy an environmentally friendly car and then make unnecessary journeys to drive one mile down the road every day, it is not being used in the most efficient or environmentally friendly way.

This can be applied to data storage strategies. Using the right piece of kit for different requirements will ensure the storage lifecycle is made as efficient as possible. For example, writing to the densest possible Raid array for critical storage needs will ensure capacity is maximised and that additional products are not purchased unnecessarily. This will go some way to reducing emissions from manufacturing as a result.

For back-up purposes, using disc with virtual tape library capability will improve efficiencies and make the best use of space.

When archiving, the greenest option is tape as it uses less power and produces a lower heat output. It is especially efficient when storing data which does not need to be accessed frequently. In contrast, using disc for archiving does more harm to the environment as discs are kept spinning constantly, churning out more heat and using more power.

Putting things into perspective

No one storage solution is going to make you green, but if purchases are made sensibly and products used in the right way, it could make you greener.

● Overland Storage is exhibiting on stand 330 at Storage Expo 2007

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