Gartner goes after Green Grid

The Gartner Group has criticized environmental consortium, The Green Grid, saying it misses the greater opportunity to influence legislation and behavior for broader green issues. Gartner also considers that member self-interest may prevent the group delivering tangible standards.

The Green Grid is a nonprofit consortium with over 80 members in the wide IT product supply industry. It has a 11-person committee with members from companies such as APC, Intel, Sun, IBM and Microsoft, and four working groups aimed at developing processes and metrics for making data centers more efficient in the way they use energy for power and cooling.

Specifically it will “foster discussion and information sharing between the best minds from the vendor and “end-user” communities to address critical issues,” and “develop a collective, vendor-neutral knowledge base so as to provide end-users with a trusted resource for vendor-agnostic solutions and information.”

In its report, entitled Toolkit: The Green Grid: A Per Shade Of Green, Gartner says that the charter of the Green Grid extends beyond data centre power and cooling strategies to include dealing with broad environmental issues. The Green Grid itself states: “The Green Grid is taking a holistic approach to addressing the entire computing ecosystem. Standards and metrics will examine all relevant IT equipment (compute, network and storage nodes) and non-IT equipment (air conditioning, facility design) that impact the efficiency of the ecosystem. However the initial focus is on the specific efficiency issues related to data centre environments.”

The Green Grid was set up in February. To criticize it five months later, given its strategy, for not yet addressing broader green issues seems a little unrealistic. Gartner’s other criticisms Gartner raises several other criticisms about the Green Grid in its report:

1. There is no specific timeline for its deliverables.

2. It needs more user enterprises to be members to balance the strong vendor membership.

3. Vendors will develop proprietary technologies to enhance their greenness and they won’t want to share these with other members, limiting the effectiveness of the group.

4. The IT industry needs a broad voice covering green issues outside the data center and helping to shape legislation. The Green Grid is not involved here.

In its summary the Gartner report states the Green Grid: “has the potential to deliver some new standards that will benefit the industry, but don’t hold your breath.”

The Grid agrees it needs more user organizations to join. Any IT-using organization interested in data center efficiency can join, paying US$25,000 or $5,000 annually depending upon the level of involvement desired. The starting organizations wanted to settle how individual members and the Grid would handle intellectual property in its discussions. This has now been embodied in the Grid’s by-laws and membership agreement.

Board member Bruce Shaw of APC said: “”The decision was made early on to set up the board and get the by-laws and charter established for the rules going forward. Now we’ve expanded it and opened it up to end-user membership and are actively pursuing them. We’ve had hundreds of requests [from end users] for membership.”

Concerning talking to legislators, the Grid’s Fact Sheet states: “the group will engage with end-users in meaningful two-way dialog and work with other organizations, governmental bodies, and NGOs to provide a comprehensive and holistic view of data center energy efficiency,” and, “A top priority is to work with the EPA and other appropriate governmental organizations to develop appropriate efficiency metrics for the industry and to produce platform-neutral standards/metrics, ” and, “The Green Grid plans to work with any and all organizations, labs and government bodies contributing to the challenges facing energy efficient data center computing.”