Going green must be pervasive

Ovum recently attended a gathering at which a major IT vendor unveiled a green initiative.

The message was that the vendors core products can help its customers significantly reduce data centre running costs, particularly in relation to fuel consumption and hence carbon emissions. It backed this up with statements about what it had achieved in its own data centre reorganisation. However, its travel bureau has not yet got the message. The lesson: in seeking to go green, its easy to overlook the obvious. IT vendors - indeed, all organisations - should assess all aspects of their operations for potential energy savings and greenhouse gas reductions.

IT tools can make IT operations much more efficient

A whole raft of tools are available to help IT managers improve their data centre efficiency:

Virtualisation allows servers to be shared between applications, and the abysmally low average utilisation of a server can be raised by a factor of four or five in many cases. As an idle server uses nearly as much power as an active one this, there are substantial savings to be had in procurement, energy use and floor space. Energy savings are at least doubled when cooling is taken into account.

The volume of stored data is growing at around 50% per annum through its own momentum and regulatory requirements. An increasing proportion of this is unstructured data such as messages and files. However, most of the unstructured data is stored at many locations within the data centre and closer management can substantially reduce the volume of data through de-duplication and rationalisation. Similar cost and energy savings apply for storage and servers, and these are magnified where the data centre is working close to its physical capacity.

Measurement and monitoring tools can help managers to get a handle on what is happening in the data centre and lead to remedial action.

The vendor duly presented its suite of products and services to help customers take advantage of the available technology. It also told of some impressive savings it had achieved in its own data centres with server farms and storage arrays de-commissioned.

Actions speak louder than words

These positive messages were somewhat blunted when it was discovered that the vendor-s commitment to green IT was not being followed across the organisation. One of the delegates, who had travelled from Dusseldorf to Amsterdam, had been told that he had to fly there as it was not company policy to reimburse train fares - despite the fact that in this case there is no direct air service and flying was both considerably more expensive and slower. As this journey involved two relatively short flights, the fuel consumption per passenger was probably about ten times that of the rail option.

Every company is trying to maximise the revenue potential of jumping on the green bandwagon, including the potential public relations benefits. In the real world we have to be glad when they do the right thing, without questioning their motives. However, a bit of joined-up thinking would help to keep the cynicism in check. Common sense must be allowed to take precedence over policy. 

About Ovum

Ovum is a global advisory and consulting firm. Its primary activity is providing value-added advisory services and consulting to retained and project clients. The company acts as a well-respected and trusted source of industry data, knowledge and expertise on the commercial impact of technology, regulatory and market changes. Ovum engages in continuous research and industry analysis to determine market dynamics in its specialist sectors. 

Ovum has developed long-standing relationships with many of its corporate clients, which include major international blue-chip companies such as Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, BT, Cable & Wireless, Cisco Systems, Deutsche Telekom, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Telstra and Vodafone. 

Ovum is part of the Datamonitor Group.

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