IBM aims to lighten the (energy) load at data centers

Big Blue is ramping up its business of selling power-saving technologies with new tools designed to track and cap data center energy consumption.

The data centers used by tech companies to run their Web sites and corporate networks are notorious energy hogs.

The information and communications technology sector currently accounts for about 6 percent of the nation's power consumption, up from about 2 percent to 3 percent in 2000, according to a report in February from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

In a report to Congress last August, the Environmental Protection Agency predicted that the amount of power used by U.S. data centers would more than double over the next five years, at a cost of $7.4 billion each year. The EPA also suggested that the nation could save up to $4 billion in energy costs, if it made its data centers more energy-efficient.

Those figures have led many tech giants, such as Microsoft , Google , IBM, and Dell , to get behind efforts to reduce power consumption in data centers. Now IBM is ramping up its business of selling power-saving technologies with new tools designed to track and cap data center energy consumption, including power for air conditioning to cool server computers, according to a report from Reuters. The products were announced at an IBM conference Wednesday in Los Angeles.

IBM is also expanding to 27 countries a program begun last year as part of its Big Green Innovations that lets companies earn and trade certificates awarded for verified energy savings , Reuters reported.

"Energy efficiency has become a critical business metric, like product reliability and customer satisfaction," William Zeitler, head of IBM's systems and technology group, told Reuters. "This is a critically important problem in the industry."

Certainly, Big Blue is landing a lot of the Big Green by helping other companies go green.

The initiative has generated nearly $200 million of technology services contract signings in the first quarter and about $300 million in the fourth, Reuters quoted Chief Financial Officer Mark Loughridge as saying during recent earnings presentations.


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