The Carbon Tax should not be feared and instead be seen as part of an overall global push towards improving productivity and innovation, with Cloud acting as the enabler.
That was the message VMware was promoting during its recent industry panel in Sydney, where the virtualisation vendor asked several industry experts to explore the role of technology in businesses as the Carbon Tax is about to make its debut.
VMware A/NZ vice president and managing director, Duncan Bennet, kicked the discussion off by noting that the Australian market needs more clarity on the issue.
“Uncertainty behind Carbon Tax has meant that there is uncertainty in the overall Australian market,” he said.
While Bennet believes that Australia is on target to meet limits set by the Kyoto Protocol, a set of guidelines which are aimed at fighting global warming, misconceptions about the amount of electricity consumed by technology persist.
According to a report by Hitachi, only seven per cent of the world’s electricity is consumed by technology, which puts it in the same level as the global airline industry.
“Efficiency needs to be more than basic consolidation of x86 servers,” Bennet said.
“With Australia as the second most virtualised nation followed by New Zealand, the discussion has now shifted to the Cloud.”
Ovum research director, Steve Hodgkinson, thinks that concerns about the additional costs of the Carbon Tax are unwarranted, as energy costs are rising regardless of the new legislation.
Instead, he sees IT transforming business via what he dubbed as “the four Cs” - consumption, costs, carbon, and communication.
“It’s true that the more energy-intensive an organisation is, the bigger the concern it will be for the company,” he said. “But at the same time, ICT is becoming a more critical enabler of productivity.”
The discussion up to now has been about how electronic devices play a part in the global warming issue, but Hodgkinson believes the pressing problem for most organisations is how to use IT to innovate and improve productivity.
“Cloud is a deep catalyst of IT innovation and productivity,” he said.
“The old style of doing things was about owning IT, but the new style is now about sourcing,” he said referring to the Cloud and how it is quickly becoming a “faster, better and cheaper” alternative for businesses.
While having more efficient datacentres and getting aging assets out of the office is one part of the equation, the actual cost of running infrastructure and how to use it is another.
“Enterprises need to understand and be more accountable of how they use energy to drive innovation and productivity,” Hodgkinson said.
Macquarie Telecom hosting managing director, Aidan Tudehope, provided another perspective to the Carbon Tax debate, and how it has commonalities with another local IT development – the National Broadband Network.
“It seems to me that a lot of the discussion behind the Carbon Tax has been spent talking about the political merits and less about the merits for business,” he said. “This is the same discussion we’ve been having with the NBN.”
As the first Australian adopter of VMware’s technology, Macquarie Telecom has been a strong proponent of virtualisation and the Cloud in cutting down costs.
With BYOD devices and centralised storage consuming electricity, there is still some vagueness surrounding power usage by IT, Tudehope noted, agreeing with Bennet.
While Tudehope admitted that the Carbon Tax will bring an added level of attention around the cost of electricity, he noted very few people ask how much “it costs outside of the rack,” such as air conditioning and associated service.
“Cooling of servers takes a lot of energy,” he said.
Datacentres for that reason are big consumers of electricity, and Tudehope is convinced that the market is reaching the point where “the greenest datacentre will win.”
Macquarie Telecom’s upcoming new datacentre in Sydney’s North Ryde is positioned as one of the most energy efficient in Australia, but Tudehope points out that it cost the company $60 million to achieve that, and thus a similar investment by other providers may not be an option.