by October 3, 2008 0 comments



There has been a lot of noise around companies adopting ‘greener’
technologies related to IT equipment of late. The greener approach not only
saves on power costs but also lets you do your part for the environment. Vendors
have been pretty restless as well pushing their power friendly equipment to
catch on with the pulse. Through this story we look at technologies that enable
a green data center, relevance of cloud computing as a green technology, the
concepts behind building a green office; plus a tour of some of the newest green
buildings.

The biggest challenge for a datacenter today is to go green. And this is not
because we have suddenly become very nature friendly but it’s because at the end
of the day when we save nature by cutting down our power, cooling, space, heat
emissions, etc we directly or indirectly save costs. The reasons for this are
simple. IT is a must for every business, and as the business grows, an
organization needs to invest more on the IT infrastructure. With the rising
energy costs, more IT equipment translates to higher costs of power consumption,
and also more space, which anyways comes at a premium. So, if products continue
consuming the power they have been consuming, then it could have serious
implications. Last year, Gartner estimated that ICT accounts for 2% of global
CO2 emissions, which is the same as the aviation industry. That’s a high figure
by any means, and unsustainable as suggested by Gartner.

To understand this need of going green, let’s take an example. Well! this is
not an example but is a real life case. It’s about an office in Gurgaon. The
office has around 400 computers and a small datacenter with somewhere around 30
servers and 5 blades which eats up around 150 to 200 KW of power in a day. The
consumption includes the power consumed by the cooling and lighting equipments
running in the datacenter as well as in the building.

In Gurgaon power is a major problem and to address it, the company has a 320
KV diesel generator which eats 1000 rupees worth of diesel every hour and also
throws out a lot of pollutants. But surprisingly, when in the night the city
undergoes major power cuts for hours and the office is closed, except the
datacenter which is a 24×7 operation. So, the datacenter should not require more
than a 20 KV generator, the same 320KV generator is used and a lot of fuel is
burnt without any reason and a lot of money goes for a toss.

Such a situation is nothing but wrong planning and is very common in our
neighbourhood. However, with a bit of planning, a lot of money and environment
can be saved. Below we talk about some of the key technologies that should be
used in a datacenter to make it greener.

Virtualization
This is a trend that has really picked up momentum across the IT industry,
and is a key technique being touted for going green. Every organization today is
combating the evils of server proliferation in the datacenter. There’s a server
for just about every application: mail, web, proxy, business apps, security,
content management, file sharing and so on. The sad part is that their average
utilization hovers around 30-40%, if not less. And yet they continue to run 24×7
and consume energy even when they’re idle. So, in effect, you’re paying the
energy cost of servers, which are idle almost 70% of the time. That’s not a very
pleasant thought indeed, which is why the whole concept of server virtualization
has become so popular. It helps combat this problem.

Virtualization allows you to abstract the hardware from the software. So a
server, which traditionally runs a single OS and application in the data center,
is able to run multiple OSes and apps simultaneously. This would allow you to
load a single server with more applications and increase its utilization. This
reduces the number of servers in the data center, and also helps you defer your
server purchase. With new servers more and more processing capabilities are
coming to the market and so adopting virtualization has become more easy and
efficient. In the second week of September this year, Intel has released its
7400 series Xeon processors which has 6 cores per processor. Such innovations
are driving the industry to go greener with more widespread use of
virtualization.

Just how green is your equipment?
We did a small reality check in our survey to determine how
green our respondents’ respective organizations were. Out of all activities,
replacement of CRT monitors with LCD ones received the highest votes. Nearly
38% had already done this activity. All other activities received less than
30% of the votes, which basically means that organizations still have a long
way to go before they become truly green.

Cloud Computing
If you extend the concept of virtualization from a single server to a
complete grid, and make its access available over the Internet, it’s called a
Cloud. Just imagine, if virtualizing a single server can save you 50 to 70% of
resources then how much savings will happen in case your complete data center
acts as a single grid and is then virtualized. We have a complete section on
what Cloud computing is and how it helps in going green, at the end of this
story.

Power and backup
It’s always good to use renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind.
But it might not be feasible for all datacenters to go for such deployments as
the costs are huge and the ROI is slow. But there are certain things which can
be easily done, such as using UPSes instead of generators.

Yes, even though UPSes are not great for the environment (especially if old
batteries are not disposed properly) then it can cause a lot of harm to the
nature. But they have their share of goodies as well. First, they don’t eat up
oil and second, they save a lot of smoke and money given the sky-rocketing
prices of petroleum products.

Moreover, they preserve power. So, if I go back to the Gurgaon datacenter
example, we can easily replace the generator with a UPS, and so when the
utilization of power is less in nights, the UPS will only supply the desired
amount of power and will increase the backup by preserving the unutilized power.
So if the UPS can give a 2 hour long backup in the day when the office is fully
active, it can give you a 6 hour backup in the night when only 10 or 20%
equipment are working.

Blade servers
Blades are a great way of saving energy and e-waste. They let you increase
the density of your datacenter to multiple levels. A single 7U blade chassis can
take up to 14 blades which saves your real estate space and in turn reduce the
ambient cooling requirements (as you can host your datacenter in a smaller
space). Blade servers are generally built with specialized processors which eat
less amount of electricity. In Intel’s dictionary these processors are called LV
(low voltage) processors and their performance per Watt is higher than others,
but are not the highest performing processors in the lot.

In our tests we found that a single blade server while running eats up around
150 to 180 watts of electricity whereas a standard server rack mountable server
eats up 250+ watts. So, you can see a sure power saving in this.

The other benefit which you get with blades is that most of the blade vendors
today provide chassis which are both backward and forward compatible, which
means you can easily replace the existing servers with new ones as and when they
are available, and can do more virtualization to consolidate instead of buying
new servers. The vendors also provides buyback schemes for old blades against
new ones pretty often, so it also solves your e-waste problems as you don’t have
to throw away those blades. You might as well save some money by giving them
back to the vendors.

Green equipment and components
It’s not just servers and blades that need to go green and consume less power,
many components today come with a greener version. These versions are
essentially products with slightly reduced performance (in some cases) and
better power efficiency along with less harmful elements in the body of the
device (paint, metal, wires, etc). A lot of such products are available out
there, ranging from a simple network switch to hard disks and even processors;
all of them today have greener versions. And yes, all these components are a
part of your datacenter, so if while building or upgrading a datacenter, you
should look forward to such equipment.

Shield Your Datacenter-or be Doomed
As data scales up, the processing power to manage it, storage capacities,
cooling needs and server numbers surge skywards. IT managers and consultants
have turned to consolidate the number of servers that run on their network, or
they chose to virtualize depending on data load at any given point of time, in
order to use lesser servers at optimum levels of capacity. Most enterprises
today have embraced virtualization to the point that RoIs are calculated easily
by analyzing business needs and virtualizing a considerable number of servers to
reduce losses. Everything is going just fine. Profits for the next financial
year sound very promising. Right?

Wrong. While virtualization has given businesses a fair say in how the
network and IT operations of a company perform, there is still one important
component of the IT infrastructure which is by and large ignored — security.
Interestingly, there are products out there that do not require you to dent your
company finances too much. Besides exorbitant costs, the other big reason for
security being rated quite low on a network manager’s list is the complexity of
having to interact with multiple vendors for multiple applications, software and
maintenance of network security. To a great extent, this concern can be
eliminated as security vendors are looking to go to market with ‘all in one’ box
format security devices which require the network manager to deal with just one
vendor.

An ideal example is Check Point’s newly launched Power 1 range of online
security applications and the more robust UTM 1 Total Security offering. The
idea of Power 1 is to combine firewall, IPSec, virtual private networks (VPN)
and intrusion prevention with advanced acceleration technologies, delivering
high-performance multi-Gbps security platforms. They promise performance up to
14 Gbps firewall throughput, at a price/performance ratio of around $4 per Mbps.
With a 6.1 Gbps intrusion prevention speed, application layer threats can be
identified and eliminated fast. Also, mission critical businesses that happen to
experience application security threats, such as worms or buffer overflows, are
now capable of stopping them while maintaining high performance and
uninterrupted business. Hardware upgradations are needed only when the company’s
networks grow or need to be scaled up. According to an internet vulnerability
study by IBM’s X Force Global Technology Services, high severity vulnerabilities
increased last year by 28 percent, and interestingly vendors with the most
vulnerability exposures were Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, IBM and Cisco. To add to
the misery, only 50 percent can be corrected through vendor patches, and even in
2007, 90 percent of vulnerabilities could be remotely exploited, and this
percent has marginally gone up this year.




UK based network security trends portal OpenXtra warns network managers
against four types of attacks. These include email based attacks, where
fictitious mail exchanges are used as a vehicle through which worms can be
carried into the heart of the network. Then there is Denial of Service (DoS)
attack, where the aim of the attacker is to render your systems inoperative for
the duration of the attack. Such attacks range in sophistication from a single
disgruntled person to a massive, worldwide, cooperative attempt to disrupt a
large corporation, bringing to surface, the risk of internal attacks. Next is
unauthorized access where the attack will either deprive you from using your
system or give partial control of your system to the hacker. Then there are the
common trojans and worms, and the fast evolving Wireless Specific Network
Security Attacks, where attackers work on the logic that boundaries of wireless
networks invariably are outside the pervades of your workplace, making it
vulnerable to masquerade IP address attacks.

A strong security checklist should ideally lay emphasis on three points: one,
a multi-tiered, multi-domain central administration of all firewalls, VPNs, and
IPS gateways and compliance policies in the enterprise; two, virtualization of
firewall, VPN, and IPS gateways, and concerned network hardware; and three,
automated logging, analysis, and reporting of network and endpoint security
events across the enterprise. Though this looks like a lot of investment, one
only needs to cleverly choose from vendors who give cost effective solutions
with higher shelf life, or a single vendor who has more or less provided most of
the functions in it. Check Point is the first entrant in India that has decided
to test out its ‘security in a box’ concept. It’s only a matter of time before
bigger and smaller vendors jump on to the bandwagon to provide integrated
security solution application and products.

Green Buildings and Campuses
Damage to environment can be significantly minimized by creating new ‘GREEN’
buildings and making existing buildings ‘GREEN’. Indian Green Building Council
defines a green building as “A green building uses less energy, water and
natural resources, creates less waste and is healthier for the people living
inside compared to a standard building.” If you go by the stats given at Indian
green building council’s website, India currently has only 259 registered
buildings and a mere 29 certified buildings. While we expect this number to go
up considerably in coming years as many corporates across India are putting
‘going green’ as their mission, but it is still a very low number for a nation
with a population of more than 1 billion. Not to mention how many buildings, be
it home or offices or factories are coming up in India every year. Just imagine
how much of damage can be saved to environment and can be prevented if all
buildings were green. Adds to it the benefit Indian corporate can get from so
called carbon credit business.

Useful Resources related to
Green Buildings

http://www.igbc.in
Indian Green building council
http://www.usgbc.org/
US Green Building Council
http://www.carbonminus.org/
CARBON MINUS INDIA (CMI) is a green initiative from Indian Institute of
Sustainable Development New Delhi.
http://www.greenerbuildings.com/
A portal with wealth of information about going green for commercial
buildings

In UAE, it has been made mandatory that all buildings coming up in next year
will have to comply with its ‘Green building code’, otherwise their building
plans wont be passed. Perhaps Indian government should learn from them and make
laws and standards for all buildings to be green. Similar were the words of many
Indian top shots, when we visited their green building campuses to find out what
they have done to go green. We will give you an insight to their green campuses
later in the article. First let us share with you some of the practical ideas
and techniques we have learned from these campuses, which will help you to make
your buildings green.

Turning your existing building GREEN
It is always easy to start with a new idea, then to incorporate a new idea
in to existing system. But turning an existing building that was not built
keeping environmental factors in mind is actually not that complex. In fact an
existing building has number of factors in favour like existing infrastructure
and material. And if the building is very old then it is built to harness
natural resources like light and air that in turn is what whole idea about being
‘GREEN’ is i.e. maximum utilization of existing resources. Now the question
arises is, considerations to be taken care of.These are the areas we are trying
to focus on in this section. Let us start with the green building rating system:
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for existing building,
developed by USGBC (U S Green Building Council). USGBC also certifies buildings
after reviewing them.

How to Make Money from Carbon Credits?
Under the Kyoto Protocol, the developed countries have voluntarily decided
that they will bring down the level of carbon they are emitting to the level
of early 1990s. These countries have set different norms for their companies
and factories to bring the level of carbon emission and other green house
gases. Carbon Credits are a part of international emission trading norms.
Credits are awarded to companies that reduce green house gases below their
emission quota. The total annual emissions are capped and the market assigns
a monetary value to any shortfall through trading. Business can exchange,
buy or sell carbon credits in international markets at prevailing rates.
These credits can be used to finance carbon reduction schemes between
trading partners and rest of the world.

Companies in developed nations
have two ways to reduce emissions. One is reducing green house gases by
adopting new technologies. Secondly, these companies can tie up with
developing nations and help them setup new technology that’s eco-friendly;
thereby helping those companies earn Carbon Credits. These credits are
bought over by companies of developed countries to show their contribution
in reducing the carbon emissions in the environment. India and China have
emerged as biggest sellers of Carbon Credits, while European countries are
the biggest buyers, and the US hasn’t signed the Kyoto Protocol.

LEED for Existing Building: Operation and Maintenance version (LEED-EB:
O&M)
\Is the latest rating system (updated from LEED-ED) was built for existing
building in both public and private domain as major chunk of commercial
buildings existed long before environmental consciousness was gained.? And these
buildings are responsible for major carbon emission and consume considerable
amount of energy. Now to bring these buildings under green certification and to
sustain green nature of newly certified buildings LEED-ED: O&M was formulated.
This system requires at least three months of operational data plus building
needs to be operational for twelve months before certification process can be
initiated. Some other criterias are, only 25% of vacant space is allowed and
project scope must cover 100% floor area. Building should also be compliant with
local laws and regulations. Prerequisite and credits in LEED-ED: O&M addresses
six domains: sustainable site, water efficiency, energy & atmosphere, material &
resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation in operation. To attain
this certification, first step is to register; this can be done through web site
(www.usgbc.org). Once registered, the next phase is data collection and
submission that can be done online, through templates on LEED-Online. The review
of the submitted data is done and certification is given in last phase, if
required one can also appeal after final application review. There is a fee for
LEED-EB: O&M certification, details of this fee can be found in ‘Register Your
Project’ section of USGBC website. One important point to note here is that
application for certification would be reviewed based on latest version of LEED-ED
certificate.

Many simple ways
There are many old buildings and small old offices which don’t really have
space or architecture to go green but there are many simple and effective steps
they can take to reduce carbon emission and lower their power consumption. This
can be as simple as using CFL’s or switching of all workstations or turning
their office into a paper less office, car pooling etc. To give a an example of
how powerful these can be, in many companies where not all employees work 24×7,
most employees do not switch off their PCs. Now this not only consumes power but
in country like India where power goes out often and generators have to work
even at nights to ensure those servers meet their 24x7uptime. Now those PCs will
also be consuming power from generators, not only increasing the oil
consumption, but carbon emission into the air is also increased. Pretty much
similar is the case with paper, especially the print outs taken for small
purposes. While recycleable print paper is yet to come out commercially,
deploying a solution for printing quotas can help organizations in reducing
wastage of paper as well as printing cartridges.

LEED New buildings
Process to get LEED certification for new buildings is pretty much the same
as for existing buildings. LEED certifications for new buildings have five main
categories namely Sustainable Sites,Energy and Atmosphere, Water Efficiency,
Materials and Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality. Plus in additional
category, there 5 possible points given if there is any new innovations done in
the design process.

According to the rating system, to get certified you would need 26-32 points,
and 33-38 points for silver, 39-51 points for gold and lastly 52 to 69 points
for platinum. A maximum of 69 possible points can be scored. Guidelines of LEED
certification for new buildings and rating system can be found at Indian green
building council website and also at US green building council website.

In next few pages we will tell about some of India’s beautiful green
buildings and campuses and innovations done by them.

Ecofice from Ngenox
So once you have built your green building, how do you monitor how much
carbon you are actually emitting into environment? Ngenox has a unique solution
called Ecofice, which is basically a carbon footprint monitoring solution. It
can do prediction of GHG(Green House Gases) emission and carbon accounting by
gathering relevant parameters from electro mechanical devices running in a
building such as generators, building management systems etc. It does
calculation of green house gas emission based on UNFCCC accepted protocols. It
provides real time montiroing and archival of data from facilities present in
the building as well as can predict future emission trends based on current
emission trends.

Ecofice Dashboard is largely meant for building
owners, CEOs etc. Through this dashboard real time data through Graphs can
be viewed. These graphs can be fully customized according to requirements.

Solution has seven key modules which can also be easily customized depending
upon the needs. its first module Methodology Definition consists of standard and
custom methodologies for calculation of GHG emissions. The methodologies created
here are then assigned to particular organization or business unit in its next
module called Methodology Assignment. Its next module Parameter configuration is
where constants and factors linked with methodology as well as GHG combination
of factor type, values etc can be configured.

Next is Automated and Manual Data Entry module is where integration with BMS
and SCADA interfaces is configured. There is also a provision for manual data
entry Next is very interesting feature called Simulation Analysis. Here with its
in-built simulation engine Ecofice allows you to see future GHG emission
according to the parameters defined. Ecofice also provides detailed reporting.
It allows users to generate business as well as organizational reports based on
individual emission values for a chosen period. Reports can also be exported
into standard formats like xls and pdf. Lastly also present is a Dashboard which
gives one shot view of all key performance indicators configured for an
organization. The dashboard displays data in real time and can also be fully
customized.

Overall Ecofice is a useful software, it can help users with issues like
emission management, carbon monitoring during construction as well as post
construction. It can also help buildings to comply with carbon related
legislations and provide all relevant information you need if you are into
carbon trading. More information about the product can be found at

http://www.evolve.ngenox.com/ecofice.html

The Eco-Friendly Face of Wipro
A close contact at the communications team of Wipro told us that Chairman
Azim Premji, who lives less than half a kilometer away from the corporate office
in Bangalore, is often seen taking late evening walks along the corridors and
boulevards that lead to his office, and makes it a point to personally have all
lights, and power equipment turned off to conserve energy. It is not surprising
then that all of Wipro’s facilities boast of ISO certifications for
environmental sensitivity and at least 14% reduction on an average, of power and
energy consumption. Apparently, the motto of conservation is embedded in the
basic design of all Wipro properties-initiatives ranging from maximum
utilization of natural light, retaining landscapes and natural water sources,
building water recycling plants everywhere possible and educating employees on
the whys and hows of reducing power. Take for instance the corporate office
which PCQuest visited. The latest initiative here is to replace all the tube
lights in the parking lots and path connecting the different office blocks with
home grown LED tubes which reduces power consumption by a fourth and ensures
that they run for up to 50,000 hours before requiring a replacement. As a pilot
project, mini LED lamps are placed along the campus, on the lawns, serving as
path lighting systems, and also at various points in the underground parking
lot. The technology, which Wipro is currently in the process of mastering, hopes
to replicate and maybe even sell to consumers as part of its retail electrical
division. The power for these LED tubes comes from solar panels that have been
installed on the roofs. On a relatively sunny day, these can work up to late
mornings after successfully lighting up the campus all night. The other
interesting initiative is utilization of recycled water in the restrooms and for
watering plants and other vegetation, which forms more than 80% of the 80 acre
plot. Food waste at other facilities in Bangalore, like the Electronics City
campus have undertaken an endeavor to collect the waste food after consumption
by the employees and have an active vermiculture facility. The same campus also
churns out tons of waste paper every month, which is recycled in house and used
as scribbling pads for employees. But what really sets Wipro apart from the rest
of the tech companies is the fact that it has a dedicated team of employees
constantly brainstorming on various ways to conserve energy. Wipro houses a
consortium of employees who meet regularly to chalk out conservation of
plans-called Eco Eye. Among other short and long term initiatives, this
consortium works with internal and external partners to involve more employees
to support the cause, with simple starting points like carpooling and reducing
wastage of canteen food.

The replacement of tube lights
in the parking lots and path connecting the different office blocks of Wipro
with home grown LED tubes.

Delta Green Factory
Delta Group launched its first green factory in Rudrapur, Uttarakhand in
August. Delta is widely known for its power management solutions, visual
displays, industrial automation and its networking products. As part of the
Delta’s green mission, this eco-friendly factory is spread across 16657.48
square meters which uses various energy saving and waste reduction techniques to
provide a healthy environment for its employees. 60 % of the factory area is
open and green.

Turbo Ventilation fans at the
roof of the delta factory which help in reducing overall temprature of the
factory

Eco-friendly green materials such as, fly ash, gypsum and brick cova were
used in the construction with low VOC paints to reduce toxic emission. The
factory utilizes natural light harvesting, and on a sunny day major part of the
factory can work without using artificial lights and any dark spots. The factory
also uses Turbo ventilation to lower temperatures in the factory by 2 to 3
degrees; it has some odd 215 turbo fans at the roof of the factory. According to
delta Natural Light Harvesting,Turbo Ventilation reduces carbon emissions by
36800 and 55200 pounds respectively.

Front view of Delta’s Green
Factory in Rudrapur

Solar panels in the factory building are placed intelligently according to
the position of the sun to get enough sunlight, and delta claims that these
solar panels would reduce the carbon emission levels by 5 million pounds. Also
used is linear panel polynum insulation which saves electric energy due to
minimum requirement of forced cooling. For its air conditioning delta has used R
407 eco-friendly gas.

Solar panels around the factory
are placed intelligently, to recieve maximum sunlight. according to the
position of sun.

Factory also saves electric energy by using 0.99 power factor instead of
0.85. As per delta, this saves electric energy by 12 to 15%. For recycling and
reuse of water purposes, the building also has sewage treatment plant. The plant
uses Anaerobic Bacterial action for recycling of water and recycled water is
mainly used for non contact applications. At the back of the factory, there is
also a storm water harvesting site for water conservation which gives factory a
nice landscape.




ITC Green Centre in Gurgaon
Starting from the exterior of the building, there is an extensive rainwater
harvesting system. A network of underground pipes feed collected rainwater to
multiple reservoirs, which then recharge ground water. But wait – if you thought
that rainwater harvesting didn’t make much of a difference, get this – the
amount of rainwater harvested by the building in a year actually exceeds the
consumption. Niranjan Khatri, GM of ITC’s WelcomEnviron initiatives prefers to
call it their ‘water bank account.’ His reasoning being that only when water
acquires the status of money, will users realize its importance.

The Green Center focuses on multiple use of water. All water that is used in
the building goes to the sewage treatment plant. The recycled water is then used
for the cooling towers, gardening and for flushing. All fixtures are also
designed to minimize wastage of water.

All that glass you see on the building? It’s special e-glass, which filters
out all the heat and noise, but not the light. The roof is coated with special
high-reflectance ‘albedo’ paint. These two features alone are responsible for
the building’s 375-ton AC plant as opposed to the 500-ton plant that was
initially suggested. Walk into the large atrium and you immediately notice the
absence of artificial lighting. This is possible because of the large skylight
and windows surrounding the atrium. Also in the lobby is a touch-screen
terminal, listing out ITC’s Green initiatives. What’s nice is that even
homeowners can find tips on how to save energy and cut costs.

As Mr. Khatri further explained, an office building, built using conventional
methods is a ‘sick’ building. Studies have also shown that working in natural
light increases productivity and reduces lethargy. If employees fall ill
regularly or are not at their productive best, the company actually pays for it
through life cycle costs. This kind of health cost has not been quantified yet.
The Green Center however, uses special carpets and paints with low VOC (volatile
oxide compounds). CO2 sensors refresh air if needed. A more productive workforce
leads to greater profitability in the long run.

Looking at a typical office inside the building, full-length glass ensures
ample light. The electrical lights meanwhile have sensors, and will come on only
when needed. At least 10% of wood and building material used is recycled. All
additional wood must come from a certifiable sustainable forest. A sustainable
forest plants 10 trees for every one that it cuts. Every aspect has been taken
care of. Now here’s a model to follow. This building really cares for the
environment.

The rooftop houses the solar power water heating system with a 4000-liter
tank. Outside, all lights are capped to prevent nigh sky pollution. This is out
of respect for nocturnal bird life and astronomers who find it difficult to view
stars because of the excessive light given out from a city.

Patni Green Knowledge Centre
Major enterprises world over are taking their initiatives towards an
eco-friendly environment. In view of that, they are adopting green architecture
for their buildings and factories. Patni Computer Systems, a leading IT and BPO
service provider, launched their first Green IT-BPO centre in Noida, called as
Patni Knowledge Centre. The centre is spread over 5 acres and incorporates green
architecture for better utilization and conservation of energy, water and
natural resources. The state of art eco-friendly facility was setup with an
investment of 175 crores and compliments the organization’s green initiatives.

The facility is designed and constructed as per the guidelines of LEED
(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The facility is also currently
under certification process which is jointly audited by the Indian Green
Building Council (IGBC) and US Green Building Council (USGBC). Patni has applied
for the Platinum certification for this Green centre.

The facility has a climate responsive architecture, and also features over
50% green area and the use of natural light. The facility is designed in a
manner that 75% of the area can get sunlight, and thus, reducing the consumption
of electricity. The design also lets 95% of the occupants to get access to
outside views. In addition, it’s a zero discharge building, which is possible by
100% recycling of the sewage. Also for water conservation, the facility
incorporates rain water harvesting system, whereby even the pavements have been
designed in manner to let the water seep into the ground. Solar water heating
system and drip water irrigation is used so that energy and water can be
conserved. Even the materials used for the building’s interiors have low
volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, also eco-friendly recyclable
materials have been used to the maximum -be it the glass or the aluminum
required for the facility. There are CO2 sensors placed along the
air-conditioning vents to monitor the air quality inside the building. Whenever
the CO2 level increases at a particular place, which can happen due to more
occupants gathering at a place, the fresh air is pumped into the area to
maintain healthy air quality. Also the lighting system inside the building is
based on motion detection. So the area gets lighted up only when people move
into a department or room, thus reducing electricity wastage. The design of
building is as such that natural light is available at most of the areas,
thereby again reducing on power consumption as there would be less amount of
artificial lighting required during daytime.Thus, Patni Knowledge Centre is an
initiative that minimizes adverse environmental impact as the building is
designed to use less amount of energy and water compared to conventional
buildings and also creates less waste.

Clouds! Wherever you look
Cloud computing has emerged as a big enabler for green computing. It’s still
in its early days and the adaptation is yet to become widespread, but we can
foresee a future where Cloud computing would become a mainstream computing
platform to save deployment and environmental hazards. But before we go further
and discuss how Cloud computing could be a great enabler for green computing,
let’s first understand what is Cloud computing.

If you understand what is a Grid and what is Grid Computing, then
understanding Cloud becomes pretty easy. But if you don’t, then here is a recap
of Grid. Grid is essentially a Cluster of computers which are loosely coupled
with each other, by loosely coupled we mean whose interconnect is either not
100% available or the latency of the interconnect is high if you compare it
against an HPC. But the prime job of a grid is to share a distributed job load
and process it aggregately.

We have talked about Grids many times and every time we have taken the same
example to explain it, and that is the SETI@Home (a.k.a Search for extra
terrestrial intelligence at Home), where the data captured by the SETI radio
telescope is distributed across the globe to millions of home PCs so that the
job can utilize the PC’s free processing time and process the data and send it
back. This is a very easy and good example to understand a Grid in action. To
make the example more topical, the LHC (Large Hardon Collider) project is also
going to use a similar grid to distribute the data captured by the mammoth
machine across the world to get it processed on the free processing power of
millions of user PCs.

Now, as we have gone through a quick recap of a Grid, let’s understand what a
Cloud is. Ok, the simplest example. Deploy any virtualization architecture on
top of your grid and you get a Cloud. But in this case the grid nodes are not so
loosely coupled, and managed inside a datacenter. What’s the benefit? The main
benefit is that as you have aggregated and consolidated all our computing
resources under one single grid platform and you have deployed a virtualization
platform on top of it, it becomes very easy to cut a slice of the grid into a
desired configuration and provide it to the user as and when required.

So, let’s suppose I have a pool of 400 processing cores and 800 GB of RAM in
my Grid, I can pull out a virtual slice of let’s say 16 cores and 16 GB of RAM
at any point of time and provide it to a user who requires it. Once the work is
done or if the resources are not utilized at a particular point, the resources
goes and merges back to the all mighty Cloud and is utilized for some other
purpose.

The Green Cloud
Now the question is where and how the concept of Green fits into Cloud? To
understand that, first of all you have to understand how virtualization helps in
consolidation and as a result saves power, space and resources. Once you
understand that you can easily see the benefits of Cloud. We could achieve x
amount efficacy in terms of our resource utilization if you use virtualization
on a single server, just imagine how many times of x we would be able to achieve
if we virtualize our complete cluster. Technically we would be able to utilize
100% of our resource all the time and hence would be able to achieve a much
higher degree of consolidation. And as a result we would save more space, more
power and more money. Even if you use Cloud computing as a client and don’t
want to deploy your own Cloud for consolidation. Then also you are saving nature
as you are reutilizing pre-existing resources on some huge datacenters instead
of deploying your own datacenter for the same task.

Cloudstatus dashboard shows health status of
cloud computing services such as Amazon web services, Google App Engine etc.
It also offers a plugin to developers, with which they can monitor their own
application in the cloud through cloudstatus portal

Now let’s see some of the Cloud computing offerings from different vendors
which you can use to reduce the size of your datacenter.

Intel, Yahoo, HP Research Test Bed
This one of the major recent developments in Cloud computing, IT biggies HP,
Intel and Yahoo have collaborated together to provide an open source muti-data
center research test bed. This global computing research bed will be made
available free of cost to researchers doing research related to Cloud computing.

What are the current trends in Cloud
computing? How is AppLabs related to Cloud computing?

The current trends in Cloud computing are more in an investigation and
proof-of-concept stages by the enterprises. As Cloud computing provides
unique challenges, AppLabs is well placed with the extensive background in
both functional and non-functional testing across all platforms and
technologies.


Rajesh Patil, AVP, BFSI,
AppLab

How does AppLabs test performance and security of the Cloud computing
solutions? What are the most common tests you perform on the Cloud?

Independent validation organizations like us play a key role in establishing
and maintaining the credibility of the providers as well as protect the
interests of the consumers. As we move to linking to the ‘Cloud’, there are
aspects of quality that include both functional and non-functional. Ensuring
the Cloud works as expected would be the domain for functional testing. The
non-functional testing would include Security, Performance, Availability,
Certification etc to ensure the end user experience is not compromised in
any way.

  •  Security and Privacy-ability for the provider to effectively
    provide both Security and Information Privacy. This is very important in
    Financial and Healthcare related application and data.
  • Availability-clear compliance with the specified Service Level
    Agreements on the availability and uptime on the environment.
  • Migration-an ability to migrate in and out. The key is the ease by
    which this can be done.
  • Regulatory compliance-ensure the provider does and keep in compliance
    with the requisite regulatory needs.
  • Standards compliance-ensure the provider supports and complies with
    industrycomputing standards. Any deviations would increase the dependence
    on a specific vendor and would impact the ability to migrate or move.

When choosing a cloud computing solution, what standards and
compliances an Enterprise should look for? What advice you would like to
give to enterprises going for Cloud-based solutions?

Cloud computing standards are evolving. An enterprise should look at the
standards being developed and supported by the key technology vendors. There
is a risk of the standards being introduced by a specific vendor which will
address any short term issues, but will be detrimental in the long run. Key
is to be able to influence open standards adoption. For compliance, there
are industries where this is quite critical-like financial and health care.
Specific compliance requirements related to customer data, privacy,
security, and regulatory needs should be addressed.

Expected to be available to researchers by the end of the year, test bed
initially will be hosted at six locations and hardware for this Cloud will be
provided by HP with Intel processors and according their press release, it will
have 1000 to 4000 cores at every location. Test beds will mostly run Apache
Hadoop which is an open source distributed computing project of and other
similar distributed computing software such as Pig which is a parallel
programming language developed by Yahoo! Research.

PaaS making waves
Platform as a Service(PaaS) or on demand platform until now were major used
by developers who were building applications which will run on the Cloud or use
Cloud in some form or another. But now these on demand platforms are also being
used for commercial purposes by companies. To give an example popular Live
blogging company ScribbleLive runs entirely on GoGrid Cloud. GoGrid one of major
player in Cloud computing with Google and Amazon with its EC2 and S3. We talked
about EC2 in our last Cloud computing story, since then one major development in
EC2 has been introduction of persistent storage called Amazon Elastic Block
Store (EBS). With EBS, users can now create volumes from 1GB to 1TB and attach
it with an amazon EC2 instance. EBS is largely meant for applications which
require a file system or a data base or a raw block level storage when running
the application in Amazon EC2.

GoGrid
As we mentioned earlier GoGrid is one of major commercial players in Cloud
computing. Currently in its public beta allows users to scale servers within
minutes. At present it lets you deploy server images of windows 2008, windows
2003, Cent OS and versions of Redhat enterprise Linux. It allows users to manage
servers through its multi-server hosting server control panel and users can add
or delete servers according to their needs. Every account in GoGrid is given a
public and private VLAN and users also have the option to use a Load Balancer
which is powered by F5 load balancer. Coming to billing, it follows two main
models one is Pre-Paid plans and second is Pay-As-You-Go-Plan. Just to give you
a small idea it charges $0.19 per Server RAM hour and $0.50/GB for outboud data
transfer in starting Pay-as-you-go-pricing plan. More plans and details can be
found at www.gogrid.com

Google App Engine
Currently in its preview release, Google App Engine is a treat for developers.
It allows developers to run their web applications on Google infrastructure
Cloud. Developers can built application online Application Environment of Google
App Engine or create them offline through its SDK which is available for
download. Each application can use 500 MB of storage and with page views upto
5000 per month. You can try out Goolge App Engine at http://code.google.com /appengine/.

Citrix Cloud Center
This came in just when we were finishing the story. Citrix has announced a whole
new product family for Cloud service providers under Citrix Cloud center
solution (C3). The solution has four main components namely Platform, Delivery,
Bridge, and Orchestration. On the platform part solution comes with Citrix Xen
Server Cloud edition. According to its press release Cloud edition of Xen Server
comes with an new consumption based pricing model, which caters to the needs of
service providers who charge customers as per the resource usage. For the
delivery part, C3 uses Citrix NetScaler for delivering resources from the Cloud
to users. Citrix claims NetScaler can reduce server requirements in large Cloud
centers by offloading protocol and transaction processing from backend server
pool . Bridge component is powered with Citrix WANScaler and lastly the
orchestration component contains Citrix Workflow Studio.

NetPC


This one is for those, who always say Cloud computing is for large
enterprises. A company called Novatium haslaunched a Nova Net PC which is
basically a thin client PC for SMBs and homes. Novatium has tied up with
various ISPs, e.g. in Delhi with MTNL and a small Cloud is hosted, in
Mauritius with Mauritius telecom to offer netPC. For operating system net PC
gives options of Windows, Linux and Solaris. NetPC currently costs about Rs
5000, however, in addition to that every month a user has to shell out 400
to 500 rupees as subscription in which it gets 30 hours of Internet access.
This is just not for Internet, even if you are using any application like MS
Office, your hours will count.

Build your own Cloud
If you think deploying your own Cloud in your own datacenter is not simple
and requires huge amount of development, technical expertise and cost, then
think again. Today we even have simple open source solutions to deploy your own
Cloud. Next month we will take you through a step by step guide on building your
own Cloud. Watch out for that.

‘In the Cloud’ malware analysis
Vendors like Mcafee, Trend Micro, and F-secure are looking to use power of
Clouds to perform real time in the Cloud analysis of malware detected to provide
enhanced security. Within the Cloud malware analysis as soon as an unknown or
suspected malware is detected in the machine, Anti-virus will immediately upload
it to the Cloud and execute in a sandbox to figure out whether it is actually a
malware or not. In case the sample turns out to be a known malware, immediately
signature files of that malware will be sent to machine. For new or unknown
malware’s signature files will be created, and as soon as they are available
they will be sent to all anti-virus clients connected to the client, to ensure
they are updated about new threats. Usually it takes more than 24 hours in
analyzing a malware and developing its signatures and by the time all anti-virus
clients are updated it can be a week or even more depending upon how users have
scheduled their anti-virus to update from the server. With this since anti-virus
client will be connected to Internet all the time, it can refer to Cloud for
every malicious activity it detects and new signatures are delivered to the
clients on the fly.Another advantage in the Cloud malware analysis is that
instead of keeping all signature files of known malware on the disk, only the
signatures of the viruses present in the wild can be kept. This also frees up
the hard disk space as well as bandwidth used to download all these signature
files in each and every workstation.

Anindya Roy, Hitesh Raj Bhagat, Rahul Sah, Sandeep Koul and Swapnil Arora

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