by Tim Lohman

Komatsu Australia undertakes Green IT transformation

Aug 05, 20094 mins
Technology Industry

Komatsu Australia has undertaken a major IT transformation as it moves to meet carbon emissions reporting requirements and travel and energy costs reduction initiatives.

Speaking at the CIO Summit 2009, the construction and mining equipment company’s CIO, Ian Harvison, said Komatsu had moved to a VMware-based virtualization environment to reduce its carbon footprint. Through the consolidation process the company has slashed 70 servers down to 10 across its 53 branch offices in the region.

According to Harvison, the key to the transformation was selling the business on the idea that the whole process is part of an “overall efficiency gain”.

“We haven’t gone out and badged any of this as Green IT — we have done it all as operational improvements,” he said. “Within our IT strategy is the question: ‘how we leverage IT to assist the business?’”

In keeping with the move to lower power consumption, Komatsu has moved to a new, more energy efficient Fujitsu mainframe — halving the data centre footprint of its current ageing Fujitsu mainframe.

The company also just signed on with EMC to update its disaster recovery (DR) centre and move its current storage production centre to a more energy efficient Clarion CX 6480-based two-tiered environment, through which it expects to cut energy use by 34 percent, Harvison said.

“Importantly we are splitting off and putting in a fully-archived environment where we can have all of our documents which are not accessed that often sitting on the second tier storage,” he said. “With the technology now we can spin the drives down when they are not in use to save on power.”

The company has also moved toward a novel recycling initiative, offering its old Dell XP-fleet laptops and PCs to staff for free following a company-wide refresh to a single model Vista-based Dell laptop. The refresh itself saved the company about $149,000 in management and energy efficiencies, Harvison said.

The refreshed laptops also operate under a managed environment, allowing the company to remove screen savers to save on energy, and to allow a remote energy saving shutdown of any machine left idle for 30 minutes or more between the hours of 8pm and 6am.

To meet a business initiative to cut its costs, the company deployed Microsoft Office Communicator on every laptop, mobile devices and desktop across the organisation. The move has seen its head office ditch its PABX and now almost the entire office uses soft phones exclusively.

“Our unified communications now [extends] to our desktops, so no matter where staff are in the world, if someone calls their office phone, they can take it on their laptop, which has a soft phone,” Harvison said. “Everyone except our president now has full presence.”

Travel costs are also expected to drop sharply with the rollout of some 190 videoconferencing cameras across the organisation, and 12 Microsoft telepresence roundtables as a substitute for executive travel to face-to-face meetings.

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“We used to do 12 executive meetings a year and that’s been switched to one per quarter,” Harvison said. “The other two are now done through our roundtables — we don’t have to fly in GMs from other regions anymore. That’s assisted us in driving down our operational costs.”

As part of a wider transformation initiative, Komatsu had turned to HP as its new infrastructure provider, Harvison says. Under the relationship, HP will initially provide 24 Itanium servers to replace the company’s current Dell Itanium servers, which support Komatsu’s SAP environment.

Any future desktops or laptops the company purchases will also be bought through HP, and an employee purchase program that includes a provision to recycle old systems at no cost to Komatsu or its staff.