Saturday, September 12, 2009

Social computing and sustainability @ Intel

I was very fortunate to be part of a discussion around this very theme on which, Dr Liam Keating, Director, APAC SMG IT Operations, Intel, spoke recently in Malaysia.

Intel IT’s operations environment includes 5,700 employess serving 66 IT sites in 28 countries. The team supports 83,000 employees in 150 sites. Intel has 97 data centers, globally. This number should come down further in future.

Intel also has an ~80 percent client mix to mobile, and 6,300 wireless access points. It receives 148 million e-mail messages each month and there’s also over 90 percent adoption of IM. In all, the Intel IT team also manages 18PB of storage capacity, including 989 terabytes backup data per month, as well as over 35 million telephony minutes/month. Quite mind boggling statistics, these!

According to Dr. Keating, environmental pressures are converging on the enterprise. The face of Intel’s IT workforce is also changing, simultaneously. For instance, the a “connected” Gen Y is entering the workforce and demanding new ways to work. Also, knowledge is exiting with the various retiring workers. Another factor is the consumerization of IT. Employees using newer technology at home and demand the same at work.

Enterprise social computing
Intel has a definition of the social enterprise or enterprise social computing: The next generation of online collaborative technologies and practices that people use within the enterprise to share knowledge, expertise, experiences and insight with each other.

It enables improvement of sharing, discovery and aggregation of information, helps finding experts fast, expands network and enhances career development, aids in real-time collaboration, helps share innovative ideas, and builds communities.

Enterprise social computing has become the catalyst for business transformation.

The traditional enterprise information workforce was distributed, content repository focused, corporate centered, had individual/small group wisdom, and unknown knowledge. In contrast, the social enterprise 2.0 is aggregated with user generated content, employee centered, transparent, has wisdom of crowds, people are now separated by six degrees, and there’s tacit knowledge.

Where is the business value?
One may ask: Where is the business value?

The key challenges being addressed by Intel IT include: work more effectively over time and distance; engage the Gen Y worker; connect and engage employees to make Intel feel “small” — tackle feelings of isolation; mitigate impact of a maturing workforce; and improve speed of finding relevant information and people.

The whole idea is to focus on people – and make them more effective at what they do!

The train is coming! So what are the steps to get ahead? These steps include explore-act-nurture.

– Start using the tools
– Consider the cost of inaction
– What are the silos?

– If IT doesn’t act quickly, somebody else will
– Identify “low-hanging” business value
– Shop for a suite of tools, not disparate solutions
– Integrate tools into business processes
– Conduct security, risk and privacy assessment early
– Document “Terms of Use” policy that align with current code of conduct

– Don’t deploy and walk away
– Provide training to facilitate “ways to collaborate” behavior change
– Show “what’s in it for me?”
– Leverage business partnerships

IT sustainability
The challenge lies in sustainability! Consume less resources, and emit less waste through sustainable IT practices.

IT sustainability is the study and practice of using information and computing technology resources, in a manner that supports the planet indefinitely.
Sustainability is achieved through reducing total consumption, actively reusing and recycling resources and by utilizing efficient technologies to improve performance.

Intel IT’s approach
It has been to develop a cohesive strategy that addresses consumption and waste, while creating a sense of urgency across IT. This includes: establishing roadmap and baseline measurements, set challenging goals with action plans to address sustainability, measure, monitor, and raise the bar.

An opportunity lies in data center optimization. For example, in 2004, Intel’s data center statistics were: 5.1M bops, six racks, 126 servers, 240 sq ft floor space and 48 kW power. In 2008, this became: 5.1M bops, one rack, 17 blades, 40 sq ft floor space and 6 kW power.

All of this has led to an 87 percent reduction in annual energy cost, $53K savings in energy, and 83 percent reduction in floor space.

Data center metering and monitoring
Another example is in data center metering and monitoring.

In context is a 5-year old, 5,500 sq ft data center in Asia. Its power usage effectiveness (PUE) was 1.99 in 2007. The data center was built on old design principles (24-inch raised floor, a 10-foot-high false ceiling that is not used as a return air plenum, and no hot aisle containments).

Intel IT developed a metering initiative, which established baselines and measurement goals. Energy meters were also installed. Data collection and analysis was also done (power utilization of IT and cooling equipment, and power losses). Next, the set point was increased from 19º to 23ºC. Further, the usage of humidity controls was reduced to three months a year.

What was the result of all of this? The PUE index of this data center improved from 1.99 in 2007 to 1.81 in 2008, and provided performance and financial benefits, including:
* Annual energy cost savings of $77,000 with an average load of 9,672 kWh per day.
* 10 percent improvement in operational efficiency.
* RoI justification for retrofitting the data center to further improve the rack power density by 2.8x, from 5 kW per rack to 14 kW per rack.

A similar opportunity also exists in using energy efficient Pcs. For instance, by their usage, Intel saw a greater than 17x reduction in estimated annual power consumption.

What’s next for Intel IT
According to Keating, these include:

Enlist the broad IT talent base
* Share benefits to encourage program expansion.
* Apply best-known methods (BKMs), collaborate globally.
* Leverage our results to create further initiatives.

Share a key role in product development within Intel
* Serve as a strategic partner for driving growth and delivering solutions.

Develop external strategic relationships
* Learn from outside Intel.
* Share BKMs with other industry CIOs and organizations.
* Work with industry to create next technology solutions.
* Encourage a global, collaborative community.

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