Data Center Consolidation for IBM

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When it rolled out its Big Green initiative on energy-efficient computing back in May, IBM indicated that it would apply its multi-faceted green data center approach to its own worldwide footprint of 8 million square feet of data center space. At the time, IBM didn’t provide any details of that process.

The announcement of an $86 million expansion of IBM’s Boulder, Colo. data center to integrate Big Green technology was the first public step in that process. This week IBM filled out the picture as it announced a major data center consolidation that will shift 3,900 servers onto 30 virtualized IBM mainframes running Linux. The company said the consolidation will allow IBM to use 80 percent less energy for the computing tasks handled by those servers.

The announcement illustrates how IBM is effectively leveraging its Big Green publicity platform in pursuit of a Big Green financial success for its core computing strategies. Virtualization is at the heart of IBM’s data center strategy. While virtualization can reduce the equipment footprint within a data center, it also usually means higher density and the need for powerful servers. Hence the IBM focus on the mainframe as its preferred virtualization vehicle.


“The mainframe is the single most powerful instrument to drive better economics and energy conservation at the data center today,” said James Stallings, general manager, IBM System z mainframe. “By moving globally onto the mainframe platform, IBM is creating a technology platform that saves energy while positioning our IT assets for flexibility and growth.”

In its press release, IBM noted that it has been running virtualized mainframes for more than 40 years. By trading physical servers for virtual ones, the company said it will save on licensing costs (since the mainframes use fewer processors) as well as staff resources used to administer the 3,900 servers.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.