Green matters: Virtually green for gm2

Green convert John Boyd, IT manager for gm2, is always on the look-out for new opportunities to become more eco friendly.

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Logistics and warehousing company gm2 Logistics ensures the safe and punctual delivery every day of 740 tonnes of paper products to more than 1,350 customers.

A subsidiary of James McNaughton Group, one of the largest paper merchants in the UK, greening the corporate reputation is harder – but therefore more necessary – than for other industries. "It’s a bit like being a wolf but wanting to say we’re a shepherd," is how Boyd puts it.

All the more reason, therefore, for gm2 to shout about the environmental success of a recent project to virtualise its storage platform. The company’s ageing storage system had struggled to support growing demand for capacity, yet maintaining availability across the company’s 80 odd servers was a must. Boyd and his team decided to implement two Compellent Storage Center storage area networks (SANs), located 135 miles apart.

"Not only does booting from SAN bring our servers online instantly - we have also been able to eliminate a lot of hardware from our environment entirely," says Boyd. "That means we’re consuming less power, which is great for both the environment and our pocket."

Virtualisation has enabled gm2 Logistics to reduce its data centre footprint by a third, he calculates.

It’s one of a string of virtualisation efforts that gm2 has implemented, preceded by efficiency drives on servers and the desktop. Boyd candidly admits that the green effect of an earlier thin client project was stumbled upon more by good fortune than by design. "Green was a useful by-product of the move to Citrix thin clients on the desktop - the drivers at the time were cost and control," he says.

There have been other successes that he has relished. One was advocating scheduling software that meant James McNaughton’s lorries could do better route planning an deliver on behalf of third party customers. The parent company spun off gm2 on this premise and the scheduling software underpins the business model today.

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