New survey reveals shortcomings of current green IT strategies

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Faronics, the company that simplifies, secures and manages multi-user computer environments, has announced the results of a survey to establish what carbon reduction efforts have been put in place by UK organisations, as well as consumer and business attitudes towards green IT and the impact that these may have on productivity. The research, conducted by One Poll*, revealed that 40 percent of UK organisations do not have any green IT policies in place, with 48 percent blaming this on the time and effort required to develop, implement and enforce the strategies. Only 27 percent of UK organisations consider themselves to be a 'green' organisation in terms of IT efficiency.

"While organisations have long been sceptical of the financial and business benefits of sustainability, this perception is finally changing," said Bimal Parmar, Vice President of Marketing at Faronics. "The aim of this survey was to assess the rate of change, identify how organisations in the UK are prioritising their green initiatives in the face of rising energy costs and gauge how they are reacting to increased consumer awareness of environmental concerns and corporate responsibility if at all."

It could be argued that the relatively low rate of execution is largely down to the current focus of green IT policies, with existing strategies usually based on large, centralised initiatives such as data centre and server efficiency.

Reinforcing this, the survey indicates that many organisations are still reluctant to adopt simple measures such as robust desktop management strategies as part of any green IT initiative, with 42 percent of UK businesses not having a policy in place to power down their desktops out of hours. This is despite the fact that an estimated 30.8 million is wasted every day through idle workstations, resulting in the highest energy drain in the office environment after lighting. The primary reason for this is the assumption that desktops need to be kept on in order for routine security updates to take place, with 36 percent of respondents believing that powering down desktops would hinder the day to day activities of staff and disrupt necessary maintenance by IT personnel.

"While focusing green IT solely on the data centre is certainly a step in the right direction, it can divert attention away from more basic, everyday measures such as powering down idle desktops," continued Parmar. "The impact of a sound desktop management strategy should not be underestimated, especially when considering that only 30 percent of a desktop's energy is actually utilised productively. This not only wastes a significant amount of power, but also results in unnecessarily high costs. What some people do not seem to realise is that solutions are becoming increasingly sophisticated. IT departments are now able to boot desktops for scheduled maintenance whenever desired and ensure that computers are not shut down while essential updates are occurring out of hours, thus having no effect on company productivity."

Finally, the research reveals that just 27 percent of UK organisations consider Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and reputation to be the primary reason for enforcing a green IT policy. However, the release of the Carbon Trust's annual CRC Performance League Table (PLT) earlier this month, which details the relative performance of participants under the CRC scheme, indicates that there is a growing focus on how organisations reduce their overall power consumption.

"This proportion is bound to rise as the CRC's naming and shaming of underperforming companies begins to have an impact on brand reputation," continued Parmar. "Consumers are becoming increasingly eco-savvy and those delivering superior energy and environmental performance are beginning to appeal much more to potential customers. Reducing power consumption has a key role to play in economic progression, not just in response to regulations and rising energy prices, but also in terms of future business leads and revenue opportunities. Thus, reducing desktop energy consumption is an easy way for organisations to avoid needless costs, as well as gain an invaluable competitive advantage."

* 1,000 employees across both the UK private and public sector were surveyed by OnePoll on behalf of Faronics in November 2011.  

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