Banking giant Credit Suisse has found a way to stem its seemingly ever-growing need for electricity, through the use of virtualisation. The use of the technology was a necessary one, noted John Froud, Credit Suisse's director of information technology and head of technical architecture, speaking at the Optimising Cloud Computing Seminar.

"We were running out of data centre space," he told the audience. As a result of virtualising many of its servers: "We've been able to aggressively address our power uptake consumption," he said.

Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, the Credit Suisse group has 49,200 employees spread out over 405 offices in 55 countries. The company generated 6.7 billion francs (or just under $7 billion) in revenue in 2009. The company has 30 data centres around the globe, Froud explained. The US centres alone consume about 5 to 6 megawatts of power each year.

Around three years ago, the company started adopting virtualisation, along with a round of server consolidation, as a way of avoiding building another data centre or expanding the existing ones. While the technology proved to be effective at stemming data centre expansion, it also had another good effect for the company: reducing the growth rate of power consumption. The company still consumes more power each year, though not at the rate that it did before.

In years past, the company's data centres' collective energy use would increase by 600 kilowatts per year, Froud said. Since adopting virtualisation, the company has since cut this number to an annual increase of 200 kilowatts per year.

About 25 percent of the servers Credit Suisse runs are virtual ones, Froud said. Froud's talk worked well with the theme of the seminar, one of using cloud computing to save energy.

Sandy Hwang, an assistant project manager for NYSERDA, noted that virtualisation is increasingly being seen as a proven technique at saving power, noting a VMware study that showed an average of 30 virtual servers could be run on a physical server.

At the event, NYSERDA announced a partnership with Consolidated Edison, the power provider for New York, that would offer financial incentives for data centres to migrate to more power-saving technologies and designs. The organisations have set aside US$10 million for the program. The money will be used to help organisations deploy power saving technologies.