Sustainable IT: On-demand computing vs. green

Sustainable IT: On-demand computing vs. green

Roundtable attendees debate the affect of on-demand computing on green IT

It’s one thing to talk about greening your own infrastructure by better utilising or buying more energy efficient assets, but what happens when those computing resources are being delivered by a third-party provider? Is outsourcing in fact, a way to minimise your carbon impact?

Attendees at our roundtable agreed new on-demand technology platforms like cloud computing, software-as-a-service (SaaS) and broader outsourcing, would see suppliers taking on much greater responsibility for the sustainability of a customer’s IT environment.

Express Data’s Peter Stein said one thing the distributor noticed as it entered the software-as-a-service space, was business ramping up as organisations come off renewing infrastructure. But alongside the obvious benefits of predictable OpEx costs, SaaS was being seen as a way to take away some of the sustainability issue because it becomes part of the service from the software services provider, he said.

As part of its recent green survey of customers in May, Symantec asked whether organisations saw SaaS as a way to go green. Of its 1200 customers involved, 57 per cent saw SaaS as a way to reduce their carbon footprint.

“I was blown away by the response,” Symantec’s Jose Iglesias said. “What it was is they either thought they were moving the problem from ‘me to you’, or they were thinking the SaaS provider could do the job much more effectively than they could.”

Dell’s Simon Johnson said the shift to on-demand computing over the next few years was a major issue for every IT provider from a strategic point of view. He also pointed out any of these new delivery mechanisms could dramatically affect a company’s ability to provide Green IT.

“My industry has traditionally been hardware and associated services, but as other organisations become offsite and independent of location, whether that be through cloud or whatever terminology you use, and as customers start buying software, hardware, processing power and technical support via an unknown location and unknown device that’s scaleable for them up or down, it could completely change this discussion we’re having around physical power in and out, cooling, capital costs and refresh cycles,” he said.

“Organisations are talking to us about it a lot as they go through the current process of refreshing now or holding off for another year. What they’re asking now is whether there is another way – whether that be internally by virtualisation, virtual desktops, or flexible services from other suppliers. That’s the piece we all need to develop business cases for moving forward.”

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