How to Green Your Machines – Optimization and IT

by | Jul 13, 2010

Just like a faucet that never turns off, the enterprise is dealing with a constant flow of digital information. At the same time that human beings continue to implement and use the blazing speeds of technology, our new computers eventually become slower to boot up, they crash and involve lengthy and painful interactions with technical support. On top of this they become energy hogs.

Rather than fix the problem, too many of us prefer to simply replace the machine. That’s not good from a “green” standpoint – cash-wise and eco-wise. Most people think it’s a memory problem, but it’s not. Every system, every network and every company suffers these burdens due to the effects of fragmentation – and there is a solution.

The IT Headache – How it Affects the Environmental Footprint

The effect of file fragmentation has been a headache for computer users since these machines came into existence. Fragmentation requires the hard drive to take more time and power because of the effort it takes to read data.

In an enterprise with large numbers of computers, workers with poorly performing systems will start begging for new ones, incorrectly blaming problems on the operating system and ratcheting up costly, time-consuming trouble tickets with the IT staff.  Magnify that by a 1,000 workstations and you can quickly see this would capture the CFO’s attention.

Mitigating fragmentation lessens power consumption, optimizes system boot times and improves disk access speeds. As organizations seek ways to cut back on energy use, and trim costs, it’s important to consider the significant positive impact that defragmentation can have in saving precious kilowatts to reduce the carbon footprint.

Substantial Return on Investment

Preventing fragmentation results in reduced help desk calls, as a defragmented system is more reliable and stable and resolves long or aborted boot times, slow or aborted back ups, file corruption, system and program hang ups, system freezes and other system errors. Enterprises can avoid unnecessary maintenance time spent by employees, and can also reduce energy and cooling costs, by maximizing system efficiency. If disks do not have to work hard reading or writing fragmented files, they’re spinning less, consuming less power and generating less heat. Further, with less use, drives will last longer, providing a better ROI for companies and reducing overall hardware costs.

Systems that operate reliably and without complaint (i.e. help desk calls) are less likely to be replaced. They’ll be used until new production requirements dictate more powerful hardware, which is a real business reason to upgrade and not a “break-fix” reactive replacement. All of these factors play into enabling enterprises to postpone refresh costs and the attendant overhead that goes with it.

Fragmented Computers Mayhem

Fragmented hard drives wreak havoc on a computer’s operating efficiency, slowing down applications. When fragmentation occurs, the system is wasting precious I/O (Input/Output) resources by writing fragmented files to cluttered spaces on the disk.

The more fragmented a file, the more work the computer has to do to read it. Usually, this comes down to how fast the hard drive can seek a specific sector and read the allocation units in question. If the computer has to read several fragmented files at once, the number of disk head movements and the amount of contention for disk access will go up – and the computer slows down.

Stop Fragmentation Before It Happens

Fortunately, there is new technology available that prevents file fragmentation from occurring. This helps IT workers avoid the task of manually defragging or performing ongoing maintenance. By preventing fragmentation, you can reduce disk write activity and make read activity more efficient, which reduces power costs. In addition, with virtual machine support for server consolidation plans, fewer servers translate into less energy use and reduced power costs.

Using the 1,000 computers example, a fragmentation prevention solution extends the life of a machine an extra year beyond three years, which can result in another net savings of $19,000. Reducing help desk traffic by just ten percent can yield tens of thousands more. Added together, these savings easily justify the purchase of the solution – and don’t forget the savings in energy costs to be a greener organization.

Fragmentation requires a computer hard drive to work extra hard to put files together, it takes a lot more energy, more time to read a whole file, to retrieve different fragments of the file from different parts of the disk. By making your computers and servers free of fragments, you’ll realize the benefits of a green, lean computing machines. By extending the longevity of your hard disks, you will ensure top device performance and ensure peace of mind for you, your staff and your thankful IT department.

Manuel Vianna is CFO of Diskeeper Corporation, innovators in performance and reliability technologies.

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