Shades of Green IT

By Michael Vizard  |  Print this article Print


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Eco-friendly computing is shifting from energy conservation to resource preservation, since it's easier to replace machines than people.

There seems to be an increasing amount of nuance being applied to term "green IT" these days that appears to have more to do with the amount of green in the IT budget rather than how green IT is in terms of the environment.

When you think about it, we have now gone through three phases of green IT. The first phase was all about saving carbons and the environment. But when the price of oil climbed above $100 a barrel, the green IT issue quickly became about saving money on power and cooling costs because electricity prices were climbing in many of the major markets of the United States.

But now oil prices have fallen, and although electricity costs still vary widely, the emphasis on green IT is shifting once again. In fact, it’s becoming code for saving IT jobs. In the economy, customers are now casting about for any way to save money short of reducing the IT staff. Whether that is misguided or not is debatable, but reasoning is that it’s a lot easier to eliminate machines than people, who might be hard to find should the economy ever recover.

The end result is that term "green IT" is now being more closely associated with the phrase "total cost of ownership." As much as people like the idea of saving the environment, the thing that gets them interested in green IT these days is the concept of lower total costs of ownership over the lifecycle of the equipment.

This slight shift has not been lost on some of the major vendors. IBM this week has launched a "Ready for Energy & Environment" program for a select group of partners that IBM has validated as having a real green proposition. The program right now is limited to about 30 partners for 2009 and includes hardware vendors such as APC and Red Hat alongside software vendors such as KLG Systel, which markets an energy management system that runs on top of IBM software. In launching the program, IBM executives say they are trying to cut through all the "greenwashing" noise of the day in order to bring real green IT products to market.

IBM isn’t the only vendor pushing green IT in a down economy. Cisco has launched a number of initiatives intended to lower the cost of enterprise networking by reducing the amount of power and cooling required. SAP has rolled out its own energy management system and even smaller vendors such as Sentilla have come out with sensors designed to specifically monitor the flow of heat through a data center.

What all this means for solution providers is that it’s time to stop merely saluting the green IT flag. What customers are looking for is a more thoughtful approach that lowers the total cost of computing in a way that helps them keep a lot of the IT staff intact during these difficult economic times. That means they don’t want to be pitched a bunch of random products that happen to be green, but rather an overall transformation of their IT environment based on a green solution that allows them to tell senior management that they are taking concrete steps to lower the total cost of computing, while improving the company’s environmental track record.

When you get right down to it, green IT is a complex endeavor. And as every solution provider knows, wherever there is complexity, there’s profit.

Mike Vizard is senior vice president of market strategies and content services at Ziff Davis Enterprise and a regular contributor to Channel Insider.



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