Paint IT GreenBy Pedro Pereira | Print
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VARs, ISVs, solution providers and IT consultants may ultimately be able to put the green stamp on their environmental efforts. Analysts say it is time for the VARs, ISVs, solution providers and IT consultants to get behind an IT certification effort for environmental practices and solutions.
If solution providers are to paint their businesses green, what
would a certification that recognizes industrywide accepted standards
It wouldn’t just be about selling products with an Energy Star stamp, say supporters, though selling and servicing energy-efficient technology certainly would be one of the criteria.
"It is more about making sure there is some consistency in the market about the green IT message," says Bova, who cites other potential criteria as tools, processes, methodologies and the vendors with which solution providers choose to work.
With that in mind, a green-standards stamp would take into account what a solution provider sells and how it does business. So in addition to recommending and implementing green practices, the solution providers would also live by those standards.
For instance, Thibodeaux says, does the solution provider have a policy in place that regulates when it’s OK to print out e-mail? What are the provider’s data backup practices? How efficient are the power supplies and monitors in use? How much waste does the company create, and how does it handle that waste?
Such practices, if implemented with a green tint within the providers’ own businesses, can be passed on to the end-user customers, he says.
Developers of a certification program might take cues from Sun’s Eco Advantage Program, which trains channel partners selling SPARC systems on data center power use and cooling, and the delivery of consolidation and virtualization services. The program equips partners with the tools to conduct eco-assessments and ROI calculations for customers.
IBM, too, is taking up the green mantle with a host of initiatives that includes energy-efficient data centers, virtualization technology and services, and even financing for green IT projects. The initiatives are part of the vendors Project Big Green, a $1 billion investment by the vendor to increase the efficiency of IBM's products and services.
To complement the technical efforts, the vendor in April announced it is working with partners to develop a green partner specialty program. The program, which Rich Lechner, the vice president in charge of energy efficiency technology and services at IBM, says IBM expects to roll out in September, includes training and certification for a range of skills related to green IT.
The ability to implement server and storage virtualization and consolidation will be among those skills, says Lechner. The program also will recognize demonstrable skills in energy management skills, energy use assessments, data center redesigns, as well as the ability to recognize and recommend when a customer needs a thermal analysis—a specialized endeavor that IBM itself would conduct, he says.
"Those are the kinds of skills we are training our partners on," Lechner says.
Certification might also take into account how solution providers address e-waste— the disposal of computer equipment. Does the provider have in place, or partner with a company that offers a zero-landfill program that calls for recycling, and when appropriate, remarketing?
Wacker of EDS points out that recognized environmental standards already exist for companies that choose to operate with a green mind-set. That standard is the ISO 14001, which essentially consists of an environmental accounting system through which companies record and track their practices and processes. EDS, he says, is pursuing ISO 14001 certification.
"What ISO 9001 did for quality management," Wacker says, "ISO 14001 will do for environmental management."