Alliance stresses simple approach to green IT

Going green doesn’t mean trying to meet revolutionary and often impossible goals, according to the head of a new Canadian-based green IT alliance. Instead, the key is to have a realistic plan that can immediately reduce your carbon emissions, electricity and water consumption.

Jean Jerome Baudry, spokesperson for the Think Green Alliance, said that too often companies are looking to see how they can cut down on their IT power and cooling costs in the long-term, rather than developing attainable short-term goals.

“The most important part of a green strategy, without sounding coy, is to simply stick to the fundamentals,” Baudry said. “Look for technologies hat can reduce your carbon footprint and power consumption today, rather than ten years from now.”

Baudry is also the founder and CEO of Toronto-based IT services firm Cybernomics Corp.

The Think Green Alliance aims to bring a wide variety of Canadian businesses together to provide an educational platform for businesses looking to implement green IT initiatives. By showcasing the companies that take action and make environmentally-conscious decisions in alliance-sponsored events and marketing initiatives, Baudry hopes more Canadian businesses will follow suit with their own green IT strategies.

The current roster of organizations onboard include: AutoShare, BOMA Toronto, Computer Room Services, Cybernomics, EcoLog, EPEAT, Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance, Hazmat Management Magazine, Info-Tech Research Group, Intel of Canada, iRecycle Computers, Jacques Whitford, Kyoto Cooling, Miller Thomson LLP, Our Cool Blue Architects, Rimrock Corporation, Solid Waste and Recycling Magazine, Steam Whistle Brewing, Terago Networks, Turtle Island Recycling, Whole Foods Market, and Zerofootprint.

According to Baudry, every company involved in the initiative has implemented a sound approach to making their IT operations more environmentally friendly through smaller, more practical steps. That means starting out small and then evaluating new energy saving technologies as they hit the market.

“We are using the basic concepts that we use in software development, and in IT with business systems, to adopt and integrate green strategies into the business DNA of our organization as well as our clients,” Baudry said. For Cybernomics, he said, that meant becoming an early adopter of commercially stable virtualization technology – costly at the time, but definitely worth the ROI in the long-run.

Despite all of this green IT hype though, some reports have indicated that a large number of IT shops aren’t willing to sacrifice performance even if it does would help the environment.

San Antonio, Tx.-based hosting provider Rackspace Inc. surveyed 3,000 customers this year and last year, and found some results suggesting businesses are losing interest in green technology.

Sixty-three percent of customers this year said they are not willing to sacrifice any server performance to lower carbon emissions. Last year, only 41 per cent of Rackspace customers were unwilling to sacrifice performance to reduce global warming emissions.

In last year’s survey, eight per cent of customers were not willing to pay a premium for green products and services, such as renewable energy, recycling, conservation or carbon offsets. This year, 30 per cent were not willing to pay a premium for such environmentally friendly products.

Eleven percent of businesses said they are not concerned about their impact on the environment — and doubt they ever will be.

Rackspace CTO John Engates was surprised by how many people aren’t willing to sacrifice any server performance for environmental gains. What wasn’t surprising, he said, was that people seem less willing to pay premiums for green services this year.

“Last year, people were willing to make some sacrifices and pay a little more,” Engates said. “Today, with the economic times and the cost of energy and fuel, green has taken a back seat.”

While Baudry agreed that this sentiment exists among many enterprise IT shops, he argued that implementing green technologies such as virtualization has become easier than ever in recent months.

“Recently we’ve seen a drop in price on equipment suitable for virtualization and all its subsequent components, whether it’s the CPUs, memory, and hard drives,” he said. “Plus you have less hardware to recycle, prepare or buy warranties on and fewer headaches in terms of upgrades, patches, and disaster recovery. I think you can justify the ROI within a year to the satisfaction of any CFO, in any business vertical.”

Rather than trying to create some kind of prophetic revolution with green banners and flags, he said, organizations should take a practical, day-one approach to trying to get more done with less.

With files from Jon Brodkin, Network World (US)

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