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Internationally-leading green IT pilot study demonstrates savings

4 February 2011

hands holding a plant

The findings of an internationally-leading study by Information Services could reduce the energy used to store the University's information by over 80%. 

The project, Planet Filestore, investigated how the environmental and cost performance of the University's filestore could be improved by providing more energy efficient data storage. INSRV was awarded funding of £50k from JISC at the beginning of 2010 to carry out the year-long pilot study. 

Planet Filestore implemented a system that identifies infrequently accessed files, and then moves them into lower cost, greener storage. This more efficient data storage typically uses lower power high-density disks which save energy and resources, whilst ensuring that all data remains instantly accessible for users. 

The results of the project demonstrated significant environmental and cost savings.

Putting this system into full production at Cardiff University, where 93% of files are not modified more than 60 days after their creation, will save 87,600kW.h of energy (approximately 51 tonnes of carbon dioxide) per year. At current prices, this results in savings of around £10,000 per annum.

Martyn Harrow, Director of Information Services, said: "Not only do the results of the Planet Filestore project impact significantly on the University, but they have the potential to make a real difference to institutional energy use across Higher Education and other sectors in the UK and internationally."

Planet Filestore therefore uses techniques and technologies that could easily transfer to a range of different corporate systems, a vital consideration as data volumes in commercial and academic environments are growing at an exponential rate.
Project leader Paul Rock said: "The greatest benefit will be felt if many more organisations were to adopt this kind of approach to minimise the energy footprint of their filestore. This would mean that the electricity and carbon savings arising from this project would scale dramatically."
To help make this approach more widely available, JISC is further funding Information Services to develop a web-based tool to enable other universities and colleges to model the benefits of different scenarios of tiered file storage in terms of environmental and economic savings.

Download the report and recommendations  

More information about the Planet Filestore project

Information Services' sustainability initiatives