A Brave New Virtual Server World

Published on June 14th, 2011

Centerbrook’s computer infrastructure has entered the “V-sphere,” a virtual server world in the electronic ether that dramatically minimizes the need for onsite hardware and energy consumption. The transformation, which took a month, will have a tangible effect not only on computer performance and capabilities, but also on the monthly electric bill.

“What we are doing is going from having 12 physical servers in the building – units that use a great deal of energy to operate and keep cool – to just two,” said Steven Haines, Director of Information Technology. “Our server farm is being relocated to a virtual realm that makes our computing capabilities more reliable, more flexible, and less expensive to operate.”

In the virtual sphere, applications are not restricted to one designated server as they are when they are located in physical units, but can be moved about as needed. Energy savings is another key benefit, one that is expected to provide most of the operational savings that will pay for the system upgrade in just three years.

Haines pointed out that the temperature in the existing server cabinet exceeded 100 degrees in places even with constantly running air conditioning. The reduction in the number of servers in the firm’s office will cut total energy consumption for its computer infrastructure by about 75 percent, or some 77,000 kilowatts annually. Centerbrook, which is located on the Falls River, generates 70,000 kilowatts of “green” energy a year through two solar panel arrays and hydropower. A pond-source geothermal system reduces heating and cooling requirements as well.

“By reducing our total energy consumption with this change, we are hopeful that the renewable power we generate onsite will surpass 50 percent of our total kilowatt usage,” Haines said.