Green IT: Beyond the hype

Green IT: Beyond the hype

State of education

When ARN first held a green IT round table 12 months ago, attendees said customers were typically approaching them to find out what green IT was and what they needed to do. A year later, has there been any improvement in the level of knowledge in the market or is there still plenty of confusion?

ComputerCorp’s Tony Heywood said the biggest difference in the mid-market was that best intentions were there when they hadn’t been 12 months ago.

“There’s an awareness of economy, environment, profit and social responsibility but it’s for companies like us to partner with the likes of Carbon Planet and build credibility for that customer,” he said. “It’s execution capability.

“There has certainly been a change in the monitoring and management requirement – before it was monitoring the efficiency of a device in terms of producing a result; all of a sudden there’s a requirement to monitor the power consumption.”

Ingram Micro’s Thomas Fikentscher said everybody understood the concept of green IT, because there has been a lot of advertising around point products, but that this had also created some confusion.

“Every vendor comes out and says ‘this piece of tin is green’ or ‘this switch is green’ but you need to explain the drivers behind it like compliance and company branding,” he said. “It’s actually quite complicated and it’s not an IT discussion because it goes a little bit further.

“We have been running workshops with business partners so they can go to their end users and explain how it all fits together. We all assume it’s only about bottom line profit but it’s not – people want to make a difference because there’s serious concern about the state of the environment.”

ComputerCorp’s Heywood was sceptical and asked how much of this was driven by fears that not being green, or being seen to be green, would be commercial suicide.

IBM’s Chris Fasseau said one key challenge was changing customer perception because people often associated green IT too closely with infrastructure when the focus should be on how it can be an enabler for the rest of the business.

VMware’s David Blackman said there was a need for different marketing in different segments.

“Our target market is primarily enterprise but mid-market and SMB customers speak and listen in a different way,” he said. “The reality is that they don’t know what to ask for so there’s still a need for an education process. Once we are measuring and putting metrics in place, there’s a target to aim for; one of the big problems today is that there is no target.” PKBA’s Peter Kazacos said there was still a divide to be bridged, particularly with smaller customers.

“There are many who are feeling the pressures of the economy and the last thing they want to hear about is something that might potentially cost them money,” he said. “You don’t want to play the [green] card too hard because you might lose them.”

Somerville Group’s Adrian Toole agreed and noted that PCs which consumed less power were still more expensive. He said most SMB customers would still buy a fleet of power-hungry PCs rather than pay a premium.

“It’s about spending less to keep your people employed and make money,” he said.

Ethan Group’s Carl Barnard said customers needed to make a fundamental shift if they were really going to make a difference. For example, focusing on the power of a CPU would only result in a few dollars of energy savings but moving to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) was a radically different approach that could have far greater impact. However, Toole said not many people were willing to take this approach today when it meant “spending a bucket load on infrastructure”.

VMware’s David Blackman pointed out all technologies have an adoption cycle and provide greater value as they mature. He said VDI has a lot of promise but that customers were still running pilots and conceptualising before going ahead with large-scale deployments.

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