This past weekend’s New York Times expose on the environmental dangers posed by data centers downplayed a major challenge facing all “green” initiatives. Data center architects are pushed today to balance reduced carbon footprint against many other factors, namely maintaining user experience.
Case in point was a survey last winter of federal CIOs consolidating their data centers. Eliminating data centers by leveraging compute virtualization is arguably the biggest way IT is reducing its carbon footprint. At the same time, some CIOs are increasingly concerned that users may end up suffering as the distance between users and their servers grows. Nearly 70 percent of respondents indicated that “increased latency for applications and security services/policies is a problem,” while a nearly equal number also identified “unpredictability of system latency” as a problem.
WAN optimization helps preserve the balance of green and application performance by reducing or eliminating application latency caused by the network. By delivering LAN-like performance regardless of a user’s location, WAN optimization solutions should enable organization to consolidate their data centers while minimizing the impact on the application.
Of course, this assumes that WAN optimization solutions can address the challenges of today’s corporate networks without increasing their carbon footprint. Whereas, at one time, IT networks might have run over leased lines or private networks with relatively low rates of packet loss, many IT networks today are often simply secured Internet connections where packet loss rates can reach five percent or more. Packet loss undermines the user experience by reducing an application’s throughput and preventing real-time applications, such as VoIP and video conferencing, from functioning correctly. Eliminating or reducing that loss in a way that benefits the gamut of corporate applications is essential to preserving the user experience.
Equally important is keeping WAN optimization green and the best way to do so is through virtualization. Ironically, consolidating applications onto fewer hosts increases individual server power consumption, but also allows the enterprise to eliminate servers, reducing a data center’s aggregate power consumption. Virtualizing WAN optimization has the same effect, eliminating the heat and power of an additional hardware appliance along with the pollution and environmental impact of shipping equipment.
The lack of appreciation for the complexities of balancing data center efficiency with other requirements was arguably the biggest hole in what The New York Times called, “the result of a year- long study.” (There have been a number of detailed rebuttals of the piece, including by Dan Woods at Forbes and by technologist, Diego Doval.) But with high-performance, virtualized WAN optimization solutions, organizations should be able to keep “the Greens” and users happy.
Now that’s something The New York Times should be covering.
Image credit: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/photo_8944096_shot-of-network-cables-and-servers-in-a-technology-data-center.html’>wklzzz / 123RF Stock Photo</a>