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New school year brings 'Green IT' college degree

With more demand for energy-related IT skills, IBM and Nebraska community college develop curriculum for two-year associates degree in green data center management.

Making data centers more energy efficient has been elevated to a college degree.

IBM on Wednesday said it has developed a two-year associates degree in "green data center management" in collaboration with the Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Neb.

Existing technologies like virtualization can improve data center efficiently significantly. Emerging technologies such as this wireless sensor promise better control over equipment and facilities. Arch Rock

Starting in December, students will learn how to design and manage data centers to run efficiently in what IBM says is the first college degree in the subject. Classes will be offered online to remote students as well.

The Environmental Protection Agency in 2007 estimated that data centers alone use about 1.5 percent of all electricity in the U.S. and are on a pace to double consumption in the coming years. With existing technologies, energy use could be cut by 25 percent, representing up to $4 billion in savings, the EPA found.

Because of financial and environmental concerns, more data center operators are taking steps to cut energy use, such as consolidating server workloads and upgrading cooling systems. Companies such as IBM, HP, and IT consulting companies have practices in designing facilities to be more efficient.

The green IT degree from IBM and Metropolitan Community College covers technologies for consolidating computing work loads, including virtualization, as well as security and disaster recovery. The course work also addresses the nuts and bolts of building and managing a facility, such as cabling and monitoring.

The data center where the class will be taught, which will be stocked with IBM servers, was funded by a $1.8 million Department of Labor grant.