Green matters: Reed runs thin and green

Reed Managed Services’ early interest in doing environmentally friendly business has earned it the reputation of being a green activist in IT matters, too. Head of IT services, Sean Whetstone, explains how measuring the carbon outputs of IT activities is the foundation of his work.

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Reed Managed Services has the advantage having an eco warrior chairman at the helm: James Reed hosts a green conference call every week and signed up to Prince Charles’ mayday environmental summit earlier this year. His interest is the reason the recruitment and HR service provider got into carbon counting early - 2005 is practically ancient history in terms of business involvement in green affairs, after all.

Head of IT services, Sean Whetstone believes this personal passion is what drives the green business agenda. Unusually, Reed Managed Services can substantiate its professed green credentials with a raft of facts and figures that show its carbon consumption and reduction. An implementation of thin client technology has reduced energy consumption at Reed by 5.4 million kWh of power, which is equivalent to 2,800 tonnes of CO2 per annum.

But it’s a passionate concern for the planet that has led the company to embrace complex calculations and measurements rather than a fondness for bean counting or reducing energy bills. Whetstone also sees this as a motivating force in the grass roots engagement with greener practices at the company. "People really want to get involved in climate change prevention - they’d be less motivated to change their behaviour if it was simply to save the company a few pennies," he says.

Being has certainly made his job easier – "there is commitment and funding from the board."

These precious commodities have been ploughed into two major IT initiatives to date. Ripping out 4,500 PCs on the desktop switching to thin client devices and consolidating the data centre using blade technology and virtualisation.

Whetstone trialled thin client terminals from Wyse Technology for three months.

Users were able to securely log into a session and access files from any workstation, whether they were working from home or from another office, without going through complicated log-on and networking procedures. The fast start-up time of the terminals also meant that Reed could encourage staff to switch off at lunchtime and at the end of the working day.

Redesigning the datacentre also entailed adopting new mindset. “I came from a government mainframe environment where the datacentre was like a fridge and the humidity was 50%,” says Whetstone. Like most other businesses, Reed ran its data centre at 18 degrees C but has since raised that to 24 and has also switched the humidifiers off.

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