The industry’s green IT conversation has so far been dominated by tactical energy-efficiency and waste-reduction efforts. It’s past time for IT vendors and their CIO customers to think big!
The intersection of IT and sustainability presents vendors with a broad array of business opportunities that go far beyond improving the energy and carbon footprint of IT infrastructure.
And these opportunities are ripening fast in the current economic and political situation as government spending is poised to stimulate green investments across a range of public and private infrastructure.
Forrester works with IT industry strategists to organise their planning at the nexus of sustainability and information technology around two categories of opportunity, each made up of two elements (see Figure: The next frontiers for Green IT):
- Green for IT - Otherwise, called the “Green IT 1.0” world. This is about applying sustainability practices to a company’s IT operations and infrastructure. Forrester divide this category of business opportunity further into two elements: datacentre and facilities, and distributed IT (see below).
- IT for Green - Forrester sees this as the new horizon of the “green IT 2.0” world. This goes beyond the IT department focus in the 'Green IT 1.0' because it involves using IT to improve the sustainability of company operations and society at large.
Again, elements define this category of opportunity: business process and applications – supply chain, building automation, telework and other business operations outside of IT; and public infrastructure, capturing information technology’s role in creating efficient transportation systems, smart electric grids, and even new, green communities built from scratch.
As strategists peer out into the broader landscape of green IT 2.0, a wide array of hardware, software, and service market opportunities come into view:
Datacentre and facilities
This is the heart of the green IT opportunity, with many markets ripe for the picking. These range from building new, highly efficient datacentre facilities to optimising existing equipment with better power management or application portfolio management.
Big system original equipment manufacturers like HP, Dell, and Sun have significant pipelines of business here, both in design services and drag-along hardware and software sales.
Because the potential for energy-saving in the datacentre is broadly recognised by enterprise IT organisations and their suppliers, this is ripest - but also most crowded - segment of the green IT opportunity landscape.
Most companies use as much energy – and waste as much too – on IT equipment outside the datacentre as inside.
The opportunities to manage and control energy usage by distributed IT infrastructure, however, is a more difficult technical and managerial challenge, because that infrastructure is, well, distributed. It’s in every location, in employees’ briefcases or pockets – not in a central location that is already highly managed.