CA Technologies has significantly improved the efficiency of its R&D team by adopting virtualisation and a private cloud.  

These technologies have also enabled the IT firm to consolidate its data centres and improve operational efficiencies, delivering considerable cost savings and carbon reduction achievements.

The move follows recent Oracle research which found that the UK lags behind the rest of Europe on data centre sustainability, with half of businesses in the UK not knowing the environmental impact of their data centres, according to another study from data centre infrastructure management solutions provider nlyte Software.

Prior to using its own technologies to deploy a private cloud in its research labs, known as Labs on Demand, the IT giant’s researchers had to join a queue for testing time in the lab. Researchers could wait for several minutes or several hours for the opportunity to test, said Cynthia Curtis, VP and chief sustainability officer at CA Technologies.

“Leveraging our cloud computing solutions enables almost immediate testing time,” Curtis said, highlighting that the culture change that occurred in this programme was also key.

“These are people who like to have their servers under their desks and giving that up was significant.”

The cloud will help the company pursue a type of “hub-and-spoke” strategy for its research labs in the future.

Since it established the Labs on Demand in 2008, CA Technologies said in its 2011 Sustainability Report that it had eliminated 16,000 square feet of data centre floor space and 6,200 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. It added that it had made annual savings of $3.2 million in energy, office space and improved productivity since 2008 – savings it expects to continue to make until 2013.

The carbon emissions reduction contributes to the company’s overall achievement of a 30 percent drop in carbon footprint since 2008.

The company has also installed electricity monitoring software, CA ecoMeter in its data centre, which sends information about energy usage to the CA ecoGovernance software, to give the company clearer information on its data centre PUE (power usage effectiveness).

In an implementation at a data centre in its New York headquarters, this monitoring software has helped CA Technologies cut its PUE from 2.3 to around 1.7, by better controlling air cooling and unit temperatures.  

“That’s huge, and that’s the best in class,” said Curtis.

Furthermore, the company has been able to close down four computer room air conditioner (CRAC) units.

The benefits realised have encouraged CA Technologies to look at installing the metering software in its other three data centres as well, while it also looks to consolidate the total number of data centres.

Its other sustainable measures include implementing more robust telepresence and video conferencing systems, from Polycom and Cisco, respectively, to enable a more remote workforce.