Meet Marek Wisniewski, Virgin Stars of The Year Award nominee
- By Helen Craig -
- Dec 21, 2011
Name: Marek Wisniewski
Company: Virgin Games
Role: Head of Infrastructure
Length of working: 2 years
Loves: Meat, porridge and tanks
Hates: Dealing with Thames Water – it’s a long story!
Recommends: Virtualisation and SSD Technology
What do you do at Virgin Games?
Ha, ha, ha – eat porridge, play Fifa, switch things off and on again – (it’s not a myth, it does actually work!) Seriously, I head up the Company’s Infrastructure and Tech Support team which means everything from sorting out someone who has forgotten their password to maintaining the system, which supports the Company’s quarter of a million customers and ensuring they have a great experience.
You were nominated for the Special Award for the Environment at this year’s Virgin Stars of The Year Awards. What had you been doing to get nominated?
I, or rather we, as I wouldn’t have achieved all that without my team’s total support, were nominated for our constant effort to think up new ways in which to be better and to be more cost and energy efficient. This ranges from the very simple little things, like making sure computers are switched off when not in use, to the big things like virtualising our server environment so that it requires less physical kit and rack space or replacing traditional land based telephony to more energy efficient and environmentally friendly VOIP.
Although we’ve virtualised almost all the servers, the journey of optimisation is far from over. Currently, we’re working on increasing the virtualisation ratio, which basically means squeezing as much as you can into one box which means less physical rack space, less hardware, which is difficult to de-commission and recycle, and around 60% less power consumption.
Virgin Games has also grown significantly over the last few years which means we’ve needed to ramp up the engine and add a bit more horse-power. To do this, we’ve utilised the very latest SSD technology which have six times higher performance than standard bricks and use about 95% less power when idle. Lower power consumption means less heat production and consequently, lower cooling costs and higher reliability.
I hardly need to point out that all this do more with less approach is much loved by our Finance Department and to date the move to virtualisation and green technology has resulted in a saving of around £200,000.
Who at Virgin Games helped you along the way?
The culture within the organisation is very important. The desire to pro-actively take a green and responsible approach runs through everything we do and, as cultures are often created by people rather than policies, the collective attitude and approach has been helpful.
Oddly enough, one of the most supportive areas of the business was finance because if you really think through what it is you are trying to achieve before you start and plan it out properly the net result of going green is a significant cost saving.
I guess this would also be the right time to say something about my team. From the start they have been on board and really helped me to implement the ideas, irrespective of how crazy they sounded. So many thanks to Keith, Jon and Lloyd, as well as all the others in the business who have embraced what we have been doing.
Which change are you most proud of?
I think everything we do has an impact, the small things as well as the big.
One of the nicest achievements this year though will be donation of seven PCs and three monitors to Computer Aid International that we’ll hopefully manage to complete before Christmas. This last achievement will probably cost us in terms of the de-commissioning process but we’ll get that spend back by way of a warm fuzzy feeling and genuine appreciation that just saving money could never do.
Have there been any technological hurdles and how have you overcome them?
Virgin Games is a pure e-commerce business and as technology is often the last bastion of environmental awareness, firstly sourcing and then secondly replacing existing hardware with the latest cutting edge green equivalent can come at significant cost – so this was and continues to be a real challenge for any business.
This technology doesn’t always come cheap but it’s important to stay true to your principles – and as someone once said a principle isn’t a principle until it costs you money!
In this case however the principle saves you money!
Why is sustainability important to you?
Because the future matters.
What is your vision for Virgin Games?
100% virtualised environment and minimal operating costs without loss of end user experience.
If you could recycle one thing what would it be?