Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Green IT Initiatives

Why the PaaS is Greener on the Other Side:
uniPaaS and Green IT Initiatives

We all have to do our part to reduce our carbon footprints and help the environment. It not only makes business sense, it’s just the right thing to do. The question for those who manage enterprise application portfolios and IT departments is: how can they do their part to reduce energy consumption and harm to the environment? While many organizations may be looking at SaaS as a means to reduce their carbon footprint, as well they should, they may not realize that cloud computing strategies such as Platform-as-a-Service or PaaS can also help the environment.

At Magic Software we’ve long been known for making a highly productive application platform. In the 1990s, developers utilizing our development tools earned Magic Software’s application platform a stellar reputation for efficiency by winning the Droege International Developers Competition five years in a row. Since then, Magic has continued to thrive, as more and more large and midsize enterprises decided to deploy mission-critical business applications based on the application platform from Magic Software. Today, the uniPaaS application platform provides state-of-the-art capabilities for Rich Internet Applications, Mobile Computing, Software-as-a-Service and traditional full client, batch and web applications. Over the years, much attention has been focused on the productivity advantages of uniPaaS, but little has been written about the energy impact of this application platform. uniPaaS actually has a number of characteristics that make it greener than its Java and .NET siblings. With uniPaaS, the PaaS may indeed be greener on the other side. This article highlights how uniPaaS can become a core efficiency driver in your green IT initiatives.

Energy Reduction Has Become an Economic and Environmental Imperative. While computer technology properly implemented has the potential to reduce paperwork, there is no question that it also consumes enormous amounts of power. It is suggested that 15 personal computers have the same carbon footprint as one automobile. According to a 2007 research report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:

“Aggregate electricity use for servers doubled over the period 2000 to 2005 both
in the U.S. and worldwide. Almost all of this growth was the result of growth in
the number of the least expensive servers, with only a small part of that growth
being attributable to growth in the power use per unit.

Total power used by servers represented about 0.6% of total U.S. electricity consumption in 2005. When cooling and auxiliary infrastructure are included, that number grows to 1.2%, an amount comparable to that for color televisions. The total power demand in 2005 (including associated infrastructure) is equivalent (in capacity terms) to about five 1000 MW power plants for the U.S. and 14 such plants for the world. The total electricity bill for operating those servers and associated infrastructure in 2005 was about $2.7 B and $7.2 B for the U.S. and the world, respectively.”

Much of the attention in green IT initiatives is therefore understandably focused on reduced energy consumption. This is definitely not a strictly hardware oriented issue. A recent Uptime Institute study found that 10% to 30% of servers in the typical data center consume energy without serving any business function. The uniPaaS application platform has unique characteristics during both application development and deployment that contribute to reduced energy consumption.

1. uniPaaS enhances Elasticity through Multi-threaded Architecture. The uniPaaS application platform’s enterprise server delivers a multi-threaded application architecture. Economies of scale are enhanced by the increased elasticity possible through multi-threaded architecture. How does this work in uniPaaS? Each application task is broken up into manageable pieces called threads that are processed by any of the cores, CPUs or physical servers available to it. uniPaaS’ dynamic application partitioning also allows it to apply multiple physical servers to a single application. Instead of having lots of excess CPU capacity dedicated to a single user or application module, highly efficient usage is made of all the available processing power in order to reduce overall capacity requirements by as much as 95%.

2. Data-deduplication. uniPaaS is a cross-platform and cross-database application platform. It can be deployed on IBM i, AIX, Linux, Windows and other operating systems and it can access mainframe data as well. It also works with data from any database – DB2 UDB, DB2/400, Oracle, MS-SQL, MySQL, etc. You can easily use uniPaaS with the data types already in use in your IT environment. There is no need to resort to elaborate ETL procedures that duplicate data. Duplicate data not only increases storage capacity requirements, it also requires processing power dedicated to synchronization procedures and all of this consumes still more energy. uniPaaS also delivers all of the record locking and other database programming features needed to accommodate transactions in an efficient, data-lean manner.

3. Rich Internet Applications. To access a Rich Internet Application, all that is needed on the client computer is the URL. The full application doesn’t actually get installed on my system, as most of the logic is being executed on the server. When I access the URL, the application loads into memory on my computer and of course, it is already running on the server. Notice I said “most” of the logic is executed server-side, but not all. uniPaaS is truly unique in the way it allows both the server and the client to execute and process logic. It is not truly a thin client or a thick client application. We call it a “fit” client. Much of the focus in the IT industry has understandably been placed on reducing power consumption in the data center. One of the best means for doing so may be to make better use of the computing power available on the client machine.

From an energy consumption standpoint, the client machine is already running while the user is interacting with the server. With uniPaaS, developers can optimize applications to use the both the server and the client’s available processing power. While many approaches attempt to centralize computing with the use of thin clients, in reality most of these thin clients are run on extremely powerful personal computers whose CPUs are vastly underutilized. uniPaas enables true optimization resulting in the greatest efficiency in both performance and energy usage.

4. The unitary nature of uniPaaS. The uniPaaS name is no accident. Not only does uniPaaS provide the application platform infrastructure needed to deliver “Platform-as-a-Service” or PaaS, it is also unitary in terms of its development orientation. What does this mean and how does it save energy? It’s quite simple. If you can use one programming tool to create both your server application and your client application – you have successfully reduced the number of development computers and the number of programmers. This is an extremely unique and fundamental characteristic of uniPaaS that is catching many veteran IT architects by surprise. While they have all known that it is theoretically possible to develop and deploy in a unitary fashion, they thought the evolution of increasingly complex environments made it impossible to use one tool for both the RIA client and the background server. There had been one or two mildly viable projects bouncing around in the open source community, but no mature, stable commercially available application platform could deliver this capability. uniPaaS is an enterprise-proven application platform that has been deployed in the market for over twenty years – and it is suddenly being looked at extremely closely by major IT organizations because of this fundamental advantage – a paradigm shift really – that means you can create a rich Internet business application (not just a game or an entertaining website, but an application with transactions, complex data structures, and logic) with one development tool and not two (or three or more). Instead of having to master Java or C# and Flex or Silverlight and hire a small army of energy consuming programmers, you can hire one or two uniPaaS developers who develop in a unitary way.

But this concept is not limited to development; it is really more about deployment. The application deploys in a unitary fashion, and this means no complex programming is required to manage the brokering of communications and other technical matters between the client and the server. If project time is therefore also reduced, energy savings in the development phase becomes dramatic. And of great interest to many software producing organizations, those energy savings are also mirrored by reductions in research and development costs that reduce the need for initial investment and increase the health of the business.

5. Paperwork Reduction. All software has the potential to add to paperwork reduction. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. With the personal computing revolution has come the personal printing revolution as well. uniPaaS is well positioned however to support culture shifts in the way software is used that enhance paperwork reduction and the greening of the IT environment. Paperwork reduction saves trees, the energy required in producing paper, shipping paper and the rather significant energy costs involved in storing paper-based records. The average office employee consumes over 10,000 pages per year. This costs companies an average of $15,000 per employee. Cutting paper usage not only reduces expenses, it also helps the environment. The average printer consumes 49 KWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity each month. For every, 500 printers decommissioned, a company can save $3000 or more in direct printer device related energy costs alone – this doesn’t even begin to factor in paper storage or costs of paper and printing supplies or the equipment itself.

How does uniPaaS reduce paperwork and printing, thereby reducing energy costs and other harmful environmental impacts? Rich Internet applications reduce printing requirements. Electronic reports, electronic documents, electronic books, and electronic catalogs can all substitute for their paper equivalents. In addition, electronic transactions can replace traditional paper-based invoices, POs, RMAs, etc. adidas Canada reports that they achieved an immediate 400% ROI with their implementation of uniPaaS attributable to the reduced demand for hard copy printed product catalogs by retailers when their new online catalog was implemented. Detailed information on uniPaaS and paper work reduction is contained in the White Paper: uniPaaS and the Paperless Office: Your Choice of Application Platform Can Make A Difference in Paperwork Reduction.

6. Cloud Computing and SaaS: Server Consolidation 2.0. Leading IT and energy efficiency analysts have discussed the energy saving effects of Cloud Computing and SaaS. These approaches take the savings possible within a single company through server consolidation to a higher level by spreading the consolidation concept across multiple enterprises.

The uniPaaS SaaS Management and Monitoring Module allows developers to provision and deploy true “multi-tenant” Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. A multi-tenant application employs a single application and database for multiple completely separate client organizations. To illustrate this, consider that in the past 123 SOFTWARE COMPANY sold its software to ACME SUPPLY, ABC MANUFACTURING and XYZ TRANSPORTATION all of whom purchased their own hardware to run it in their data centers with individual employees accessing those applications from networked personal computers. These client server applications are the mainstay of business today.

With SaaS, a single cloud-based data center exists. Since the personal computer workstations at ACME SUPPLY, ABC MANUFACTURING and XYZ TRANSPORTATION all have access to the Internet, these companies can close their data centers or at least eliminate and reduce many of the power-hungry servers in their data centers. Instead, all three companies utilize the centralized SaaS application hosted in the cloud. None of them can see the others’ data as they all have visibility and access to only their slice of the application and data. uniPaaS has all of the difficult-to-develop application platform pieces necessary to make this possible: an enterprise-class server, a broker-engine, rich Internet client and web browser client support. Alongside this, the Management and Monitoring module allow the SaaS company to do all the provisioning of new companies and users, as well as the metering and monitoring needed for billing purposes.

The beneficial effects for the environment, when multiplied across tens of thousands or millions of businesses are enormous. Most data centers are designed to perform well at times of peak demand. As a result, they have significant unused capacity typically ranging from 92-98% of the time that they are in operation. By pooling use of data center resources through the use of Cloud and SaaS infrastructure, centralized data center power usage can be reduced by 90-99.9% depending on the application type. The typical IT server consumes 450 watts of power. Even when one factors in the continued use of personal computers and handheld devices to access the SaaS applications, overall power usage is reduced by amounts ranging from 55-95%.

The SaaS model fuels green savings in other ways too. Not the least of which is data deduplication. By reducing the amount of storage required, energy consumption is reduced. And the metering options possible in uniPaaS allow a software company to charge per, per month, per data throughput, per transaction, etc. When people have to pay to use software, the demand is self-regulating and therefore less energy is consumed. Finally, most SaaS and cloud infrastructure facilities are run by world-class IT organizations that know how to architect and manage their facilities far more optimally than individual IT organizations. But SaaS is not the only way uniPaaS reduces power consumption.

Measuring the benefit. So how can uniPaaS fit into the green initiatives for your company? We recommend using the services of an IT consulting organization who can help you quantify the verifiable energy savings possible with uniPaaS across all dimensions of your business. The Server Side Savings Worksheet enables analysis that can be used to show server side energy savings. For a copy, send me an email request. Additional factors to be evaluated include network and storage energy savings, cooling and power supply energy savings, and client side energy savings.

We are not suggesting that you rewrite all enterprise applications from scratch, but rather that you take an incremental approach to adopting uniPaaS as your enterprise standard application platform. Evaluate how RIA, SaaS and Cloud Computing with uniPaaS as your application platform can reduce energy requirements. Thousands of major enterprises use the uniPaaS platform for mission critical business applications today because it is more productive and straightforward than available alternatives. Now they have a third reason: verifiable green IT savings that reduce the enterprise carbon footprint.

Glenn Johnson is Senior Vice President at Magic Software Enterprises, Inc. in Laguna Hills, Calif., an Advanced IBM Business Partner and winner of SAP Global Innovation and Quality awards. He may be contacted at or (800) 345-6244.

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