By Keith Walker
Cloud. It’s the IT world’s darling. It’s fast, efficient, distributed computing that makes it possible to do everything from bank online to start a business. But despite all this goodness, could the cloud actually have a negative impact on…the environment?
After all, the actual “computing” has to happen somewhere and usually it’s in massive datacenters with thousands of power-hungry servers, network equipment and other infrastructure components.
Never fear, tree-hugging, EV-driving IT friends. IBM’s patent 8,549,125 gives cloud computing a “green” button that can distribute cloud service workloads to low-powered or under-utilized systems to minimize its environmental footprint. Continue Reading »
By Mike Ray
It started 40 years ago, before it was trendy or being taught in business school.
Thomas J. Watson, Jr., IBM Chairman at the time, said: “We accept our responsibilities as a corporate citizen in community, national and world affairs; we serve our interests best when we serve the public interest…We want to be in the forefront of those companies which are working to make our world a better place.” That was 1969.
IBM’s values shape and define our company and permeate all of our relationships; between our employees and our shareholders, our clients, the communities where our employees live and work, and among our network of suppliers. Continue Reading »
By Harry van Dorenmalen
Chairman, IBM Europe
The first, Sequoia, is the world’s most powerful supercomputer, capable of calculating in one hour what would otherwise take 6.7 billion people using hand calculators 320 years to complete if they worked non-stop. It is installed at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
The second is the first commercial machine, cooled by hot water, built for the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre in Germany. It will be used by scientists across Europe to drive a wide range of research − from simulating the blood flow behind an artificial heart valve, to devising quieter aeroplanes.
What’s impressive about these machines is not just their massive processing power alone, but they are remarkably energy efficient, too.
Tune in today at 11:30 a.m. EDT for live blogging from the D.C. event, Big Data: The New Natural Resource. Follow @IBMPolicy on Twitter, and Tweet to #BigData and #IBMPolicy.
By Frederick Streitz, director of Lawrence Livermore National Lab’s High Performance Computing Innovation Center
We live in a time of tough economic competition that demands industry and business respond to global market forces as quickly and efficiently as possible. At stake is American leadership in technology as well as other industrial and business domains.
There is growing international recognition of the important role high performance computing (HPC) can play in the innovation that is critical to economic competitiveness. We need only look at the Top500 list of the world’s most powerful computers over the last five years to see that supercomputing is seen as an essential tool for scientific discovery and an engine of technology innovation from France, Italy, Germany and Spain to India, China and Japan.
From a federal government perspective, the competitiveness of American business and industry has become a matter of national security. Continued US leadership in science and technology is considered by many to be critical to the nation’s security and economic prosperity.
In line with this growing recognition, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and IBM are broadening a highly productive 20-year partnership to make HPC and domain expertise in science and engineering available to US industry. LLNL and IBM have formed Deep Computing Solutions, a collaboration that aims to help US companies use HPC capabilities and expertise, at a level previously only available to national research laboratories, to improve their competitiveness in the global marketplace.
The Top500 ranking of supercomputers today recognized the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Sequoia as the fastest computer in the world. The computer, an IBM Blue Gene/Q, was designed to be extremely energy efficient. Like previous Blue Gene machines, it’s powered by low frequency and low power embedded PowerPC cores–in this case, an astonishing 1.6 million of them. Sequoia produces 16 petaflops of computation muscle. That’s 16 quadrillion operations per second. It’s an important stepping stone on the way to exascale computing–machines that will be 50 times as fast as today’s fastest.
Read a related post on the IBM Research blog.
Energy use in data centers accounts for 2% of electricity consumption in the United States and 1.2% worldwide, according to a new report by Stanford University professor Jonathan Koomey. While that’s a relatively small slice of overall energy usage, it’s a lot of megawatts. So the pressure is on to come up with ways to make data centers less energy hungry.
A couple of IBM scientists think they’ve found a smart way to do that. Kota Murali and Roger Schmidt are the brains behind the Holistic Green Data Center–an integrated package of technologies designed to bring solar energy to data centers, avoid energy-sapping DC-to-AC power conversions and use water for cooling by running it directly under the microprocessors in server computers.
Each of the pieces by itself could create significant energy savings. Taken together, they offer the potential of transforming the way data centers are designed in sunny locations and greatly expanding the availability and lowering the cost of computing in developing countries in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East.
Like many good business ideas, IBM’s plunge into water management technology started with its own pain. The story is told in Charles Fishman’s new book, The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water. Fishman warns that the era of easy water is over. “The new water scarcity will reshape how we live, how we work, how we relax. It will reshape how we value water, and how we understand it,” Fishman writes. The managers at IBM’s chip plant just outside Burlington, Vt., had their consciousness reshaped before many others did. Water is plentiful for them, but they use a lot of it and the water they use has to be ultra-pure, so it’s mighty expensive.
At the Burlington plant, IBM creates huge quantities of purified water for washing delicate components during the semiconductor manufacturing process–1.7 million gallons a day. The bill for purified water is nearly $10,000 per day, including the cost of water, chemicals and energy. It used to be much higher–more like $20,000. But, starting more than a decade ago, under pressure to cut costs, IBM’s managers realized that situation was unsustainable. So they launched a water management initiative that ultimately became a data-rich system for managing all of the water used in the plant. And that system grew up to be the company’s Smarter Water business. “Burlington has helped IBM change the way it thinks about itself,” writes Fishman. “IBM wants to do for its customers–for companies, for cities, for utilities, for whole natural ecosystems–what it has done in IBM Burlington.”
For IBM, natural resource management has evolved over the past decade from an internal discipline into an expression of global advocacy. The company’s annual corporate social responsibility report lays out the internal benefits of conservation and environmental sustainability. For instance, IBM saved over $50 million in electricity expenses and conserved 523,000 megawatt hours of electricity since 2008. The company’s global conservation program involves 3,100 conservation projects at more than 350 IBM facilities in 49 countries. Conservation is a good investment, too. Over the years, IBM estimates that its focus on environmental sustainability has realized savings and avoided costs at a rate of approximately $1.60 for every $1.00 spent.
As the Smarter Planet business initiatives continue to develop, those savings will increasingly be supplemented with new revenues. IBM’s experience points to a big, convenient truth: conservation is good for business.
The Obama administration is under tremendous pressure to make government more effective and efficient–but not spend money to make it happen. Tough job. It’s even tougher when you consider that the White House needs to cut the federal deficit even while improving America’s competitiveness.
But a proposal released today by leaders in the tech industry could make the task a bit easier. The Technology CEO Council, which includes the chief executives of IBM, Intel, Dell, EMC, Motorola and other companies, laid out recommendations aimed at saving the federal government $1 trillion over a 10-year period. One of the most attractive aspects of the proposal is that it doesn’t require a lot of up-front investments to produce sustainable, long-term gains.
The recommendations include reducing energy use in data centers, consolidating facilities, streamlining supply chains, sharing administrative systems, shifting from staff-heavy systems to electronic self-service, and using analytic tools to ferret out waste and fraud. Here’s a link to the New York Times story about the proposal.
Every new US administration launches an efficiency program, and President Obama’s is no exception. Federal chief performance officer Jeff Zients (now the acting head of the Office of Management and Budget) is aggressively searching for smart ways to cut costs. And CIO Vivek Kundra, who works for Zients, is consolidating data centers and shifting some software applications to more efficient cloud computing models. Hopefully, this encouragement from the tech industry will help them get stuff done. Zients responded immediately with this blog post, Seeing Eye to Eye with the Tech Council.
The 12-page TCC report is peppered with specifics aimed at helping government agencies do more with less. Motorola, for instance, saves about $1.2 billion a year as a result of integrating its supply chains. “Most of these won’t require big investments,” says Jonathan D. Breul, executive director of the IBM Center for The Business of Government and a former Office of Management and Budget senior adviser. “A lot of it is management discipline. A lot of money is being spent needlessly. It’s a matter of redirecting it to activities that will save money.”
As IBM and Dell CEOs Sam Palmisano and Michael Dell laid out today in Politico, there are plenty of examples of how this can work from governments across the country. For instance, by using predictive technology, New York State is validating tax refund requests, saving $889 million by catching improper refunds.
It’s going to take a lot of this kind of innovative thinking to solve the federal government’s money problems. Today’s announcement looks like it could help get the creative juices flowing.
Do you have any novel ideas for making government more efficient? Any new business models that would minimize technology costs for government agencies?
Editor’s Note: The following post by Stephen L. Sams, vice president of site and facilities services for IBM, underscores the need for CIOs to more effectively manage growth in their data centers. If data centers are allowed to grow organically, CIOs can find themselves adding unnecessary resources, increasing the power demands and carbon footprints of their data centers beyond the needs of their business workloads. This post helps CIOs understand the importance of building a modular and flexible data center for more energy efficiency now and in the future.
How do you build a data center to last 20 years when information technology is changing every 2 years
In the new economic environment, uncertainty, volatility and complexity seem to be at an all time high – and they are still rising. Business processes are becoming more interconnected and global. Standout CEO’s are focused on how to manage in a more complex environment by creating value through new perspectives, deeper insights and more information. For CEO’s and their organizations, avoiding complexity is not an option — the choice comes in how they respond to it.
CIOs can play an important role in the enterprise by developing a vision of innovation enabled by IT. How well you manage your data centers to raise the return on investment of IT infrastructure, to expand the business impact of data center operations and to make innovation real determines the level of your success. Since data centers are long-term and somewhat static investments – needing to last 20 years while the technology inside changes every 2 to 3 years – it becomes an imperative that you plan strategies to be able to react to dynamic changes.
IBM’s data center family features innovation around a modular approach which helps solve three key ways to design a smarter data center.