There is a very real sense that the IT industry is at something of a crossroads. Historically the focus has been on supplying more power and faster speeds and running constantly at full power. But today, as in wider society as a whole, there is an urgent need for a rethink. This is being forced upon us by two environmental concerns - the working environment and the general health of the planet we call home.
From a business perspective, particularly in the datacentre, the working environment is the most pressing issue and the one most customers are eager to see solved. Technology has a tendency to be power hungry, this generates lots of heat that requires serious cooling, and both suck a lot of electricity, which is becoming increasingly expensive. Analysts at Gartner have estimated that energy accounts for 10 per cent of IT budgets but warn it could soon be guzzling every other dollar. Something has to give.
The industry is responding to these pressures with a range of initiatives including the consolidation and virtualisation of servers and storage units; new generations of processors that are twice as powerful but only consume fractionally more power; software that eliminates unnecessary power usage; services to optimise datacentre operations; and collaborative initiatives such as the Green Grid aimed at improving energy efficiency.
When considered together these efforts should reduce energy costs in business, or at least put an end to the alarming spike, and also deliver a degree of feel-good factor that the industry is doing the right thing. We are told the IT industry accounts for 2 per cent of the global carbon footprint, which doesn't sound much if you say it quickly but is on a par with the airlines so often labelled as one of the biggest sinners.
Nobody in business is going to act responsibly simply because they feel it is the right thing to do because making decisions with your heart instead of your head is an effective way of going bust. So the IT industry has a duty to show customers how they can optimise working environments to the benefit of their bottom line and the planet. Actions speak louder than words.