IT buyers 'won't pay a premium' for green products

IT buyers 'won't pay a premium' for green products

Tightening economy and vendor greenwash turn tide of opinion

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IT organisations are reacting against a tightening economy and a perceived vendor "greenwash" by saying they are not prepared to sacrifice hardware performance for environmental considerations.

Hosting provider Rackspace surveyed 3,000 customers this year and last year, and found some results suggesting businesses are losing interest in green technology.

Sixty-three percent of customers this year said they are not willing to sacrifice any server performance to lower carbon emissions. Last year, only 41% of Rackspace customers were unwilling to sacrifice performance to reduce global warming emissions.

In last year's survey, 8% of customers were not willing to pay a premium for green products and services, such as renewable energy, recycling, conservation or carbon offsets. This year, 30% were not willing to pay a premium for such environmentally friendly products.

In addition, although last year more than half of respondents said they would pay 5% to 10% more for services from a "green" vendor, only 41% were willing to do so this year.

Eleven percent of businesses said they are not concerned about their impact on the environment - and doubt they ever will be.

Rackspace CTO John Engates was surprised by how many people aren't willing to sacrifice any server performance for environmental gains. What wasn't surprising, he says, is that people seem less willing to pay premiums for green services this year.

"Last year, people were willing to make some sacrifices and pay a little more," Engates says. "Today, with the economic times and the cost of energy and fuel, green has taken a back seat," he says.

That might seem short-sighted, given that environmentally friendly technologies should, in theory, help customers save money by improving energy efficiency. The results might also be skewed by Rackspace's customers, most of whom aren't running their own datacentres. Rackspace hasn't upped its prices to reflect the higher cost of energy, Engates added.

Engates suspects, however, there might be a similar unwillingness to adopt green technologies among orgaiations that do run their own datacentres, because IT managers typically aren't responsible for energy costs.

"A lot of times, people who make the decisions about what equipment to purchase are not the same who pay the energy bill," Engates says. "If the price were transparent all the way through the system, much like gasoline is, they might consider paying more for greener technology."

Rackspace's survey targeted 3,000 of the company's highest-paying customers.

Another recent survey, conducted by BPM Forum, found that 86% out of the 150 IT professionals it surveyed are concerned about their impact on the environment, but only 41% had any specific green plans in place.

"There is a lot of hype, and it's hard to discern the difference between things that have been 'green-washed' and things that are really green IT," added Forrester analyst James Staten.

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