Executive Corner

Green Retrofitting: Corporate Responsibility That Makes Sense

Yesterday, I wrote about a new direction for ServInt’s social media outreach. Basically, I explained that a lot of companies, ServInt included, spend too much time talking about themselves and not enough time talking about their customers. I made a new rule saying that we’d talk more about you.

So, naturally, I’m going to kick that off by talking about us.

Earth Week 2010 is coming to a close and as such I thought it appropriate to reflect on a few of our specific accomplishments in green technology. In our more than 15 year history, we’ve been relatively silent trailblazers. We are pioneers in dedicated and VPS hosting and we were one of the first hosts to actively work on improving inefficient and environmentally troubling urban infrastructure. With that being said, there are some unique challenges that we face precisely because of our status as trailblazers.

When it comes to the environmental impact of our data centers, long established companies like ServInt are sometimes at a disadvantage. Because our data centers are located in the Washington D.C. and Los Angeles Metro Areas, we can’t simply tear them down and build brand new LEED certified data centers in their place. Here are just a couple of reasons why:

  • Cost: The costs involved are astronomical and the diversion from our core business of delivering great managed hosting and peerless support could put that commitment to service in jeopardy.
  • Customer Impact: The construction would have a significant impact on our customers and the surrounding community. Servers would have to be migrated and the ability to find temporary venues with the same level of connectivity as our existing infrastructure is, shall we say, challenging.
  • Identity: We are 100% independent and self-financed. Many of the largest players in our industry rely on venture capital just to keep the doors open. ServInt is a company that strives to get our technology right, even if we aren’t first to market. Because we invest in technologies that make sense, we prove time and again that we’re a customer driven, not investor driven, company.

So, on the topic of green tech, we’ve made it our mission over the years to mitigate that damage as best as we can. From our reforestation projects and partnerships to the regular recycling projects we undergo, ServInt has a sincere commitment to bettering the world around us.

We are a company of innovators, after all, and innovation often comes from adversity. That’s why we’ve focused our energy on intelligent, practical, environmentally-friendly retrofitting to get us closer to where we’d like to be. The more efficient the hardware, the less power they use, the less heat they generate, and the less cooling is needed. All of that intellectual energy and investment leads to less carbon and a cleaner world for all of us.

However, retrofitting isn’t simply a hardware issue, software is often just as important when creating a more environmentally friendly hosting environment.

That’s where virtualization comes in.

Virtualization is probably the most important technological breakthrough in computing today.  You can find examples of its benefits just about everywhere, and its users range from the quintessential geek trying to use Steam on Ubuntu to the development team at a Fortune 100 enterprise. Removing the need for physical hardware is an important capability in modern computing, we’d all agree, and its the parent of the current “cloud craze”.

But virtualization is also a tremendous tool in the fight against climate change. The technology, and its abstracting of common server hardware, has been an integral asset in ServInt’s efforts to remain climate positive. With ServInt’s implementation of Parallels’ Virtuozzo container-based virtualization software, clients with more conventional hosting needs could be easily and inexpensively accommodated onto a VPS. This led to an exponential decrease in the number of physical host servers we needed, and it in turn led to drastically reduced prices to our customers.

Power and cooling costs dropped immensely as well, saving ServInt a significant amount of money and allowing us to go one step further in offsetting our carbon emissions.

Because of the success of these initiatives, I’ve been invited to speak on green retrofitting at several industry events, most recently at HostingCon in 2009 and again at the upcoming HostingCon 2010.

From day one, our commitment to the environment was based on common sense and a true spirit of corporate responsibility. We’ve come a long way in 15 years, and we have a long road ahead of us, but a sincere desire to reduce our carbon footprint and a commitment to our clients has helped us remain a leading innovator in green technology.

All of us at ServInt are looking forward to our brighter, greener future as a result.

Photo by Tambako the Jaguar

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