Why IT is getting greener

18 Sep 2008 View Comments
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Davis: "Cost savings will always be a focus"

Reducing IT energy costs has become the most important factor for companies looking to implement green computing initiatives, according to a survey by analyst Forrester Research.

Extending the lifecycle of hardware and regulatory compliance were also cited by IT leaders as important motivators, but cutting power consumption is very much the primary driver.

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“Cost savings are always going to be the focus of any big change programme within IT,” said Forrester analyst Euan Davis.

Some 53 per cent of respondents to the survey of delegates at the Green IT 08 conference earlier this year highlighted reducing energy costs as their main objective.

Respondents pointed to energy saving schemes in a number of areas, but were missing some obvious shortcuts.

Eighty-seven per cent are implementing or exploring server virtualisation, while 83 per cent are looking at storage consolidation.

But while 69 per cent of those surveyed are pursuing improvements in cooling, only 57 per cent are changing their datacentre floor layout ­ which can significantly reduce costs.

Depending on environment, cooling a datacentre can consume more energy than running the computers themselves. A hot aisle/cold aisle layout, coupled with blanking panels and correctly located vented floor tiles can make a big difference, according to Forrester.

Extending the lifecycle of IT assets was the second-highest priority for 41 per cent of respondents, and many IT managers thought they could kill two birds with one stone ­ looking for both efficient and long-lasting hardware.
But Forrester pointed out that savings are not just made in the datacentre. Recent research from The Climate Group found that desktops and related peripherals may consume up to 50 per cent of IT’s total energy use. And companies seem to be catching on.

More than a third of firms ­ 37 per cent ­ have centralised power management systems in place, and a further 10 per cent are considering them. But only 34 per cent have deployed thin client systems, despite the technology being around for some time.

“Thin client is easier to secure, easier to manage and can be up to 25 per cent more energy efficient,” said Davis.

Regulation was another key driver for green IT, with 34 per cent of respondents pursuing green IT to “stay ahead of forthcoming regulations”.

“With a carbon cap-and-trade system coming in, the focus is really going to be on cutting energy use for many companies that are keen to avoid buying too many extra credits,” said Davis.

And the introduction of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) legislation last year seems to have had a major effect on many companies.

Three-quarters of respondents have desktop disposal and recycling policies in place for end-of-life equipment.

But internal initiatives are still more important than external ones, according to blue-chip user group The Corporate IT Forum (Tif). A survey of Tif members in May found that 62 per cent of respondents named corporate social responsibility (CSR) schemes as an important driver towards green IT. Legislation was viewed as being fourth out of seven issues.

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