IT needs to tackle ‘mediocrity’, says CIO

Instead of starting from scratch, the IT industry needs to benchmark and copy best practice methodology, according to Government CIO John Suffolk.

In a wide-ranging keynote at Green IT 08 conference in London, Suffolk lambasted the IT industry for not recording and following best practice when it comes to infrastructure design.

“There are not enough CIOs saying: ‘I’m not going to put up with 30 per cent utilisation of servers’. There isn’t banging of tables and saying ‘I’m not going to put up with mediocrity anymore’,” said Suffolk, Government CIO at the U.K. cabinet office.

All too often IT suppliers will design from scratch rather than follow best practice. “We will ask suppliers, ‘have you supplied common infrastructure before?’ And they will say ‘yes’, but the first thing they do once they get the contract is design the infrastructure. Where is the historical learning?”

Rather than follow the best practice on how to design a data centre for optimum utilization and following eco-principles, IT suppliers and CIOs will “just come in and design on the spot”.

Suffolk said the IT industry has a history of inefficiency, and it’s not uncommon for an organization to be running 5,000 servers at only 20 to 30 per cent capacity. “We as an IT industry created this beast,” he said. “Can you imagine a company that only uses 30 per cent of a building?”

The IT industry needs to benchmark and create measures that would help IT managers to hit green targets and design IT environments for maximum efficiency. When it comes to developing best practice, Suffolk said: “We need to answer the question: What does ‘good’ look like from a green perspective?”

“The last thing I want to do is hand over a bag of cash and ask ‘Can you design something from scratch?’,” he added.

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