Expending the Role of the Solution Provider and Making IT Matter Again

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print


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Looking to grow IT's role in business? Looking to equip IT with the tools to make a difference? The time has come to for solution providers to increase the importance of IT.

Nicholas Carr's controversial 2003 Harvard Business Review article titled "IT Doesn't Matter" and his 2004 book "Does IT Matter? Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage" put a damper on the importance of IT in today's corporations. Whether true or not, some perceptions were changed and IT departments have felt the repercussions.

Regardless of Carr's observations, there is still a way to increase the importance of IT in today's corporations and it is all in the hands of the channel.

First, let's set the table with some factoids:

According to IBM estimates, as much as 40 percent of an office's entire electricity use is for IT equipment.

IDC research shows that every dollar spent on IT hardware, results in 50 cents being spent on power, growing to 75 cents in three years.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. servers and data centers have doubled their electricity usage in five years, gobbling up $4.5 billion of power last year.

OK, you are probably assuming I'll be talking about the greening of technology and how it can impact a business, but before you abandon my little commentary here, please read on a little more.

Yes, green technology saves money and yes companies are already greening their data centers, but power savings shouldn't end with the data center. IT departments now have an opportunity to expand their roles and push green ideology out beyond the data center.

Simply put, green is all about technology and no corporate department is better equipped than IT to deal with technology. What's more, green technology needs monitoring and management to realize any true savings, again IT's primary strengths. What's more, green goes well beyond those "electricity" based products. Vendors are developing supplies that are "more green", such as printer toner or paper – Additional areas where IT can impact "how green" a business is.

To read more about why it's getting easier to be green, click here.

Let's think about some minor changes in the business environment that can save energy and costs; How about automatic thermostats to reduce heat and cooling needs during off hours? What about automated lighting, to shut off unused lights? And let's not forget the modern PCs ability to hibernate or sleep when not used. All of those elements can add up to savings, with very little effort.

But, much of those technologies have been left to the control of facilities departments and not IT departments. That creates a significant problem when it comes to determining real savings. Most facilities departments install green technology because of corporate mandates and savings are calculated based upon faith; faith that the product will work correctly, faith that the power savings schedules are correct, faith that the products actually do offer the claimed savings.

Here is where IT can step in and quantify that faith—modern green technology should be integrated and monitored, and managed—something that is very possible with the automation technologies available today.

For the channel, equipping IT departments with this knowledge will lead to sales and services, and when it comes to selling and supporting green technology, no one is better equipped than the channel. The figures from IBM and IDC mentioned above show there is already a need and most green initiatives today will start with the data center.

Now is the time to leverage that "green" influence and expand green technology from the data center to the general corporate environment.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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