A green approach to IT management used to be something that only larger organisations could afford to address. But today, with lower hardware costs, even the smallest enterprise can now go green.

In an IT context this means involves looking closely at every aspect of your business's IT usage, and in some cases radically altering how these services are set up and used.

In a report on the subject, IT research company EMA states: "Green IT solutions have established themselves as important – and in some cases, critical – deployments for increasing energy efficiencies in order to reduce operational costs, achieve power utilisation objectives and ensure sustainable value in IT investments.

"Rising energy costs and, in some cases, limited power availability are driving institutions to find solutions that will ensure long term sustainability for IT assets that are essential to ongoing business success and profitability."

Power heart

At the heart of green IT is better power management; if power consumption can be reduced and intelligently managed, a company can achieve clear cost savings. This will often involve the consolidation of IT assets such as reducing the number of servers in use, moving to thin clients for desktop access, and upgrading from aging hardware to new equipment that is more energy-efficient.

There are a number of tools to help a small business make the necessary assessments of power usage. These include the Client Energy Savings Calculator, Data Center Capacity Planner and the Monitor Power Savings Calculator – all of which are available from Dell.

In addition, the Dell KACE application, which works alongside PowerEdge servers, can help your business manage its IT resources. Using a control wizard, it's possible to generate a power usage map to show how much and where power is being used.

Small business owners will then be able to see precisely where power savings can be made. Also, as PowerEdge servers have throttling technology, the power consumption of those with light loads can be reduced.

Reducing footprint

Any green IT strategy for a business will be multifaceted. There are clear regulatory goals such as the reduction of CO2 emissions, and reducing the footprint of the IT within your business will deliver cost savings. It's possible to use smart meters to generate more usage data that will help to control these features as a business evolves.

EMA concludes: "Green IT implementations bring real, quantifiable value to a business. It's simple numbers – the greater the energy efficiency, the greater the cost savings and the greater the return on IT investment value achieved by an organisation."

Of course, no discussion of green IT can conclude without looking closely at virtualisation. Servers are often vastly under-utilised - often just 15% of a typical server's capacity will be online at any one time – and moving to virtual server platforms typically increases a server's usage to over 80%.

This massive efficiency boost, coupled with the small footprints and low energy consumption of today's servers and their ability to use throttling, can play an important part in helping your business to develop an effective green IT platform.