Analysis: Slow-growing green

Analysis: Slow-growing green

How a fresh approach to cooling the datacentre can help with an organisation's carbon footprint

Could saving the Earth – and your company's bottom line – be as simple as using fresh air to cool the datacentre?

It's not quite that simple, but it can be one step toward those goals, because companies that use natural air to cool their facilities are seeing big benefits on both the environmental and financial fronts. In fact, IT leaders, analysts and environmental advocates say there are plenty of opportunities for tech organisations to create more Earth-friendly operations that cut energy needs and slash a company's carbon footprint while saving money, too.

But many organisations still aren't capitalizing on such initiatives -- even the ones that are relatively easy and inexpensive to implement.

IT executives who responded to Computerworld 's annual Forecast survey seem to echo that reluctance. Nearly half (42 per cent) said their IT departments have no plans to launch projects in the next 12 months to reduce energy consumption or carbon emissions, and nearly three quarters reported no plans to create committees to oversee energy-saving initiatives.

Yet experts say organisations that ignore green computing now are going to have to catch up if they want to stay competitive. "The green issue is not going to go away. There's too much at stake," Rakesh Kumar, an analyst at Gartner, said.

That's not to say IT leaders don't have their reasons for staying away from green computing. Kumar said some of them think it's a fad. Christopher Mines, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., said others believe global warming is a crock and that there's no need to act on the issue, or they see green as merely increasing expenses.

Many others are nervous about reworking established systems and processes. "The last thing these people want to do is take a screwdriver to IT processes that work and start re-engineering them to make them more efficient," Mines said.

Early Adopters

Increasingly, however, IT leaders and other executives are putting aside such concerns and pushing for green IT initiatives.

When IDC surveyed 300 CEOs for its September 2008 "U.S. Green IT Survey," 44 per cent of the respondents said that IT will play a very important role in their organisations' efforts to reduce their environmental impact. Compare that to the 2007 survey, in which only 14 per cent of CEOs said they felt that way.

The 2008 survey also showed that energy costs were the most pressing reason for the adoption of green IT.

"We don't see many or indeed any companies that are hesitant to explore green IT projects," IDC analyst Vernon Turner wrote in an e-mail on this topic. "In fact, the scary thing is where to start, and it may be that reason why there is somewhat a feeling of lost souls. There has been a lot of marketing by the IT vendor community around green, and I think that CEOs and CIOs are 'green-washed' by it."

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