Thus far, the main compelling reason for end users to apply green IT principles to their computing environments has been to save money.
But that is starting to change, according to vendors and solution providers. While extracting costs out of IT environments through power conservation, server consolidation and virtualization remains a priority, an increasing number of companies cites social responsibility as a motive for adopting more environmentally friendly IT practices.
Take Tyco International, for instance. The company that made news a few years ago after top executives were found to have looted $600 million from corporate coffers is following a rigorous IT asset-disposal program partly because it wants to portray itself as a good corporate citizen.
Proper asset disposal in itself does not make your company green, but it is one of the elements of an ecologically minded IT strategy.
Chris Adam, director of asset disposition at Peabody, Mass.-based Converge, a solution provider specializing in e-waste, says companies don’t want to be caught doing the wrong thing when getting rid of obsolescent computing equipment, lest that reflect poorly on their corporate image.
And Rich Lechner, the vice president in charge of energy efficiency technologies and services at IBM, says he has seen a “dramatic increase” in the number of companies wanting to go green to fulfill a corporate responsibility agenda as opposed to only saving money.
As customers become more attuned to the importance of going green as energy costs escalate and e-waste piles up, they also are increasing the profit potential for solution providers offering green solutions.
Fortunately, helping customers go green is a multi-faceted endeavor, which translates to varied approaches and multiple solutions. The server consolidation and virtualization angle has become fairly common, but there is so much more providers can do — assessing power use, replacing inefficient equipment, using operating system power-saving settings and providing asset disposal, to name a few possibilities.
Performing a green IT assessment for customers would be a good start. A customer may be unaware of all the power-saving settings in an operating system, that their UPC units are consuming too much or that obsolescent equipment may have some residual remarketing value.
Beyond that, solution providers with a strong interest in green practices ought to evaluate their offerings and services to determine what they should change within their businesses to make them more environment-friendly.
It might make sense for providers that haven’t already done so to move some of the business to a managed services model, which by allowing systems monitoring and management remotely, helps decrease the provider’s carbon footprint.
Providers also should evaluate the products they sell against competing technology to see if they can find greener offerings. For instance, solution providers selling storage might want to consider technology from Compellent, whose SAN systems are inherently energy-frugal
Of course researching which vendors are making which green products could become prohibitively time-consuming for some solution providers, in which case they can take advantage of resources such as epeat.net, a web site that rates products according to how green they are.
Inevitably, some solution providers reading will dismiss the idea of going green as hype. To some extent, it’s hard to blame the skeptics, considering the IT industry’s tendency to over-hype trends and developments. But anyone dismissing the green ideal out of sheer disbelief in the value of increasing the eco-friendliness of IT networks is turning his or her back on potential business.
Seeing as customers are becoming more attuned to green priorities, it won’t be long before they start asking IT services and products suppliers to show their green credentials.
Pedro Pereira is editor of eWEEK Strategic Partner and a contributing editor for Channel Insider. He is at email@example.com.