Data center infrastructure is costly on its own, but there is also the additional cost of carbon emissions associated with the enormous amount of power data centers consume.
All big U.S. companies have been under pressure to reduce carbon emissions associated with their operations in recent years. Many of them have looked to data center consolidation as one of the main ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, the fourth-largest bank in the U.S., has been doing just that. The company has been consolidating its data center infrastructure since 2009, when it merged its IT functions with Wachovia National Bank.
Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia during the economic collapse of 2008, interrupting what was going to be a government-arranged Citigroup takeover of the troubled Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank, meant to prevent it from failing.
Wells Fargo has shut down close to 100 satellite data centers since early 2009, Bob Culver, the bank’s head of data center strategy and technology, wrote in a blog post. The ongoing data center consolidation effort has consisted of moving workloads from underutilized servers onto newer, more efficient gear, server virtualization, and moving infrastructure into bigger facilities.
“We estimate that our efficiency has increased 70 percent from mid-2011 to today,” Culver wrote. “Our mainframe environment takes less than half the power that it did just two years ago, yet has more processing capacity.”
Wells Fargo has gone from less than 4,000 virtual machines running in its data centers to about 30,000 now. That, coupled with spinning up more than 21,000 virtual desktops, has reduced the amount of facilities space by more than 18 percent.
Culver expects to close 11 percent more of the data center portfolio over the next two years, which would bring it to two-thirds of what it was in 2009, when its infrastructure was merged with Wachovia’s.
Data center consolidation has consistently resulted in reduction of Wells Fargo’s carbon footprint, which the company has committed to cutting by 35 percent by 2020. According to Culver, his team’s efforts resulted in a 5.5-percent reduction in 2012, a 5.8-percent reduction in 2013, and a 5.2-percent reduction last year.