Bendigo banks on mainframes for green IT

Bank replaces blades with mainframes to boost energy efficiency

Bendigo Bank will double its datacentre computing capacity by swapping blade servers for mainframes, and is saving more than A$375,000 (NZ$447,000) a year by being more energy efficient with an enterprise-wide green renovation.

The IBM z9 mainframe servers are housed in a new A$10 million datacentre which will handle the bank's entire network, including 332 branch offices and the new head office, which attained a five-star green rating for its design.

Bendigo Bank strategic solutions senior manager Leigh Watkins says the bank began to aggregate and consolidate its energy costs about four years ago after audits revealed money was being wasted through multiple energy suppliers and excessive power consumption.

"We realised that keeping our old desktop boxes, CRT monitors, and printers constantly turned on for 118 hours a week was costing us A$375,000 a year," Watkins says.

"It was part of a plan to aggregate all of our energy suppliers because we had a different one for each of the sites that we had at the time. We had to pull it all together to see what savings we could make of it."

The new head office holds more than 1000 staff previously spread across different sites, and has under-floor air-conditioning, solar heating, atriums for natural light, external blinds which track sunlight, louvres for natural airflow, rainwater tanks and black-water recycling.

According to Watkins, the internally managed datacentre missed out on the latest power-saving cooling systems and architectural designs because IT was not engaged in the thrust of the green initiative.

"We are working with IBM to make the datacentre more efficient. We will either reduce power consumption or we will get more processing from the same amount, because we will improve air-conditioning, load and everything else," he says.

"IT wanted equipment to stay running for many different reasons but the time for devices to always run just for convenience is past, and we need to look at reducing carbon consumption."

While migrating active data from the blade servers to the mainframes is the most difficult challenge for the bank, Watkins insists it will reduce power costs because the z9s have twice the capacity.

An internal audit of power consumption using a Power-Mate energy monitor triggered the project when it found the power-saving features in the bank's desktops and peripherals did not work.

The bank is the first of its kind to use 50% renewable energy green power across all sites and it has developed its own emission offset product for its customers.

Watkins says the financial benefits behind carbon reduction will amplify as energy bills rise due to government plans to factor carbon costs into the price of power.

The bank is working with IBM's Project Big Green to make its data centre more energy efficient and will consider replacing its desktops with laptops to reduce power consumption.

The datacentre is expected to cover the bank's IT requirements for the next 15 to 20 years.

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