Catching the green wave

Seems like every time you turn around another ‘green IT’ story is hitting the newswires.

Last fall Gartner predicted that by 2010 environmental issues would rank among the top five IT management concerns for more than half of state and local government organizations in many parts of the world. Soon after, a report in the U.K. House of Commons decried the “wave of green froth coming from [technology industry] vendors” and called on them to improve the accuracy, quality and transparency of information provided to users.

Two industry heavyweights recently made headlines with the announcement of new environmentally based executive postings. Microsoft appointed Rob Bernard to the position of Chief Environmental Strategist, and soon after, Cisco hired Paul Marcoux as Vice-president of Green Engineering. Both executives have company-wide mandates to delve into environmental issues.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that in the not too distant future CIOs in Canada and elsewhere will have to start making substantive and quantifiable efforts to make their IT operations more environment-friendly, or risk being swept away when the green wave gains momentum.

Right now, green is still a low-priority issue for most CIOs. In a lot of companies, green is only arriving on the coattails of other technologies such as virtualization, or as a side benefit of cost-cutting measures such as replacing power-hungry older equipment.

A global survey of data centre administrators, released last fall by Symantec, showed how far most companies are from having a green data centre. In Canada, six percent of respondents said their organization was in the trial stage of implementing one, 26 percent had started or were in the process of implementing one, and three percent had completed the implementation. No doubt these last three percent were the Munchkins of the data centre world.

There are plenty of good reasons for the slow pace of data centre greening but those reasons are going to become flimsier as time moves on. So if greening your IT organization has only been an afterthought for you so far, now would be a good time to start giving it some more mindshare. After all, it’s the right thing to do. And when your grandkids ask you what you did to help save the planet, you won’t have to chew your lip and mumble something about installing a dimmer switch in the dining room.

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