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Is Your Data Ready for the New Year?

2010 is winding down and some of you may already have visions of sugar plums displacing more mundane thoughts of Enterprise Information Management. Take a moment to look back over the year and contemplate the amount of data that you have accumulated. Then, think about next year. More of the same, right? Well, sort of. Most of you will find that you accumulated much more data this year than last year, and the rate at which you are ingesting new data is increasing well beyond the rate at which you are able to get rid of it. The rate of data growth has simply become unsustainable for most organizations. And, it will get worse next year. Why? Because the composition of your data keeps shifting from less structured, easily managed databases, to more unstructured, hard to manage, rich media from more and more new sources. Visions of photos, sound and video, multi-media presentations, wikis, and blogs, and tweets – oh my! – are displacing the sugar plums, aren’t they!

For starters, let’s look beyond the data that you accumulated this year and contemplate the data that you had at the beginning of the year and that you still have going into the New Year. Some of it is legacy data and some is historical data from your productive systems. This article looks at legacy data and legacy systems and their impact on your efforts at becoming a Green IT organization. Next time, we will look at the historical data that you could be archiving from your production SAP system.

By “legacy data”, I am referring to data that lives in some old application and you are keeping because you don’t know how to get rid of it. The software that created it and the hardware that provides access to it are outmoded or obsolete. The data is “important” because there are business users who demand that you keep the legacy system running. You would like to replace the servers with ones that consume less energy, but the applications preclude you from doing so.

What is the impact of these legacy systems on your Green IT strategy? The average mid-range enterprise server consumes 10,635 kWh per year and the average high-end enterprise server consumes a whopping 142,017 kWh per year! Referring to the table below, that means that each legacy server is responsible for between 15,000 pounds and 200,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually. Most large enterprises have hundreds of such servers.

Server Type

Average Watts per Server (1)

Average kWh per Year per Server (1)

Annual Electricity Cost (2)

Annual Carbon Footprint (lbs. CO2) (3)

Volume Server





Mid-range Enterprise Server





High-end Enterprise Server






If the business users of these legacy systems are SAP users, they would like to have all of the information that they use available directly in SAP. However, migrating the legacy data and requisite applications is generally not practical.

We have assisted many customers in addressing this dilemma by converting the legacy information into reports that are archived into the same archive server that also supports other SAP archiving needs. An index is created in the SAP database so that the business users can access the legacy information in a quick and efficient manner – without leaving the SAP application interface. This is a popular scenario for SAP Document Access by OpenText.

The result is a win-win-win situation. The business users are happy because they have ongoing access to their important legacy information without having to bring up the legacy applications. IT is happy because they can unplug the legacy servers and eliminate the cost of operating and supporting them. And, the environment gets a little bit greener because less carbon is emitted from electrical energy production.

I do have two cautions for you. Be careful in the manner that you dispose of the legacy servers, so that you minimize the impact of eWaste. Many server vendors, including Green IT Community members HP and Bull, have programs that will guide you to recycle or dispose of the servers in compliance with local requirements. And, before shipping any data storage devices, be sure to take steps to securely erase the data or physically destroy the device so that your important information does not end up on WikiLeaks.

Next time, we will look at the environmental impact of historical data in your SAP database that can be archived. Meanwhile, you can learn more about how SAP and its partners support Green IT through the SAP Sustainability Map on the EcoHub.

How many legacy systems is your organization bringing with it into 2011? Do you have a strategy for decommissioning legacy systems? How are you disposing of decommissioned servers and data storage devices?


(1)      To arrive at this estimate, the servers are assumed to operate 100% of the year, and the total electricity consumption (including cooling and auxiliary equipment) is twice that of the direct server power consumption, based on typical industry practice. Source: Estimating Total Power Consumption by Servers in the U.S. and the World, Jonathan G. Koomey, Ph.D., February 15, 2007

(2)      The rolling 12-month average cost of commercial electricity was 10.12 cents per kilowatt hour in August 2010. Source: U.S. Energy Information Agency

(3)      The average U.S. CO2 emissions per kWh are 1.58 pounds per kWh. Based on 7.18 x 10-4 metric tons CO2 / kWh non-baseload national average emissions rate for converting kilowatt-hours into avoided units of carbon dioxide emissions. Source: eGRID2007 Version 1.1; U.S. annual non-baseload CO2 output emission rate, year 2005 data U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

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