The evolution of green IT: Key takeaways for I&O professionals


The green IT track at Interop Las Vegas kicked off with a session from yours truly on “The evolution of green IT: Projects that cut cost, avoid risk, and grow revenues”.

The aim was to help IT professionals plan for green IT’s current and future state, backed up with a number of real-life examples. Here are the key takeaways that I&O professionals should pay attention to:

  • IT is the cornerstone to planning and executing organisation-wide green strategies. While C-level business execs in conjunction with the “environmental, health and safety” and “corporate social responsibility” departments might initiate organisation-wide green thinking, IT plays a critical role in planning and execution. Forrester finds that in 43% of organisations globally, “IT has a central role in both planning and executing” their organisation’s environmental sustainability strategy. Because effective sustainability management requires information gathering and analysis across a broad range of company assets -- and then reporting to a range of internal and external stakeholders -- Forrester has long held that IT must be heavily involved. And this data indicates that IT practitioners at many companies agree.
  • The scope of green IT is broadening. While the industry’s initial -- and even continued focus -- is on the datacentre, organisations are realising that they have bigger opportunities in distributed IT, and even more so outside of IT altogether. Why? While the datacentre is a significant consumer of energy, Forrester’s survey data finds that more energy is actually consumed by distributed IT assets in aggregate (e.g., PCs, monitors, printers, phones) -- 55% across distributed IT vs. 45% in the datacentre. And even more, the IT industry is only responsible for 3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions -- making the case very compelling to use technology to reduce environmental impacts across broader business operations (e.g., truck fleets, packaging, real estate energy management, supply chain). To describe this widening of the green IT agenda, Forrester uses the shorthand of green IT 1.0 (“green for IT”) and green IT 2.0 (“IT for green”).
  • The approach to green IT is expanding. While the traditional hardware-centric approach to green IT of sourcing more energy efficient equipment is still important, it should only be a component of how enterprise I&O professionals approach green IT. And as the economic downturn reduced CAPEX, IT organisations were forced to extend the lifecycle of hardware and pursue alternative approaches to green IT by consolidating and improving the utilisation and efficiency of IT equipment they already own. These additional approaches include software, services, processes and people.

Here are some real-life examples of these green IT approaches in action that I&O professionals should take stock of:

  • Hardware: Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s thin client draws 13.6 watts versus 77.1 watts from a desktop, saving $500K per year.
  • Software: Leading client management vendors and startups are offering PC power mgt software that can cut energy costs by $25-$75 per PC per year (ENERGY STAR).
  • Services: Emerson, Schneider Electric, HP, IBM, Dell, and others offer DC energy audits -- critical to spending time and money wisely.
  • Process: By increasing the temperature to 74°F degrees (from 69°F), KPMG noticed a 12.7% reduction in energy consumption.
  • People: Microsoft datacentre facility managers’ bonuses are tied to year-over-year efficiency improvements.

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