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Environmental responsibility is emerging as an important topic for corporate IT organizations and their technology suppliers. With increasing market pressure to “go green” and because of its central role to the enterprise, IT is often given the role of facilitator to bring together all departments with a unified sustainability plan. Senior management may ask IT to launch innovative technologies to facilitate changes in organizational behaviour. The document describes. Green IT, the emerging new trend in the Global IT sector that can help an organization get started in an environmentally responsible manner, both to fulfil their legal and moral obligations, but also to enhance the brand and to improve corporate image.
2. What is Green IT?
There are many definitions for Green IT. Some of them listed below.
Green computing or Green IT is “the study and practice of designing, manufacturing, using, and disposing of computers, servers, and associated subsystems—such as monitors, printers, storage devices, and networking and communications systems—efficiently and effectively with minimal or no impact on the environment. It includes the dimensions of environmental sustainability, the economics of energy efficiency, and the total cost of ownership, which includes the cost of disposal and recycling.”
Another definition for Green IT says, it is the “optimal use of information and communication technology (ICT) for managing the environmental sustainability of enterprise operations and the supply chain, as well as that of its products, services, and resources, throughout their life cycles.”(The Gartner report, “Green IT: The New Industry Shock Wave,” by analyst Simon Mingay)
is defined as the study and practice of using computing resources efficiently through a methodology that combines reducing hazardous materials, maximizing energy efficiency during the product’s lifetime, and recycling older technologies and defunct products. (San Murugesan, August 2007) In short Green Computing enables companies to meet business demands for cost-effective, energy-efficient, flexible, secure & stable solutions while being environmentally responsible.
3. Why Green IT Matters
IT systems are not only a large source of emissions that need to be carefully managed, but they are also the most important part of an organisation’s compliance. IT is the measuring tool and the data repository. ICT typically accounts for more than 20% of the energy used in an office building, with some offices registering up to 70% attributed to ICT. Although energy costs typically comprise less than 10% of an overall IT budget. A recent report states that this could rise to more than 50% over the next few years (Gartner Research). Green IT is about IT’s contribution to reducing the whole organisation’s carbon footprint, and to facilitating mandatory reporting on carbon emissions and the subsequent emissions trading system.
Green IT is part of a fundamental change in the economy and society (see Figure 1). It is a subset of the larger green (or sustainable) business trend, which reconciles sustainable business practices with profitable business operations. In the IT industry, both suppliers and buyers are coming to realize that they should incorporate green principles into the design, manufacturing, operation, and disposal of IT assets. The momentum for this change comes from a variety of sources which is listed below:
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Product and Company differentiation and
Companies’ efforts to improve their IT efficiency and governance have direct green benefits as well. This is just the beginning of a long-term shift in the behaviour of corporate IT organizations and businesses generally. The companies are expected to adopt a combination of “quick win” activities and longer-term planning that will result in a significantly greener IT industry.
4. What Companies are doing with Green Computing
Green Computing is making significant progress in businesses and organizations, according to the More Green Progress in Enterprise IT study from Forrester Research. The report shows that companies are increasingly taking the environmental impact of technology needs into consideration as part of their regular operations.
For this report, Forrester surveyed 738 companies, almost three quarters of which employ more than 1,000 people. Over 40% responded that environmental concerns were “very important” to their companies; 45% of those companies are either implementing or creating a green-IT strategy to guide future purchasing or end-of-life technology product considerations. The survey also found that half of the companies already incorporate environmental criteria into purchasing decisions and almost 80% recycle hardware at end-of-life, either through OEMs or third parties.
Globally, the top three reasons listed for making greener IT choices include reducing energy-related expenses; doing “the right thing” for the environment; and bringing IT in-line with larger corporate initiatives.
IBM has been singled out by leading technology media for its emphasis on energy-efficient technology and services internally and for clients. IDG’s Computerworld, the leading source of technology information worldwide, has named IBM the top Green IT Company for 2008. A Computerworld executive noted that “IBM…has taken a serious look at how they impact the environment and how they can address those challenges with good business sense, through their Project Big Green initiative and a company-wide focus on energy-efficient technology services.” (Segan, Sascha (2007))
5. IBM – Project Big Green
IBM is among the first of the Corporate IT giants which looked at going green. In order to be a leader in this IBM came up with an Initiative in May 2007.
Project Big Green
is IBM’s billion-dollar initiative to dramatically reduce energy use by IBM and its customers. The initiative includes new energy-efficient IBM products and services, and a five-step approach to energy efficiency in the data centre. If the approach is followed, IBM believes it can sharply reduce data centre energy consumption, transform technology infrastructure into green operations and provide up to 42% in energy savings for the average data centre. The initiative also includes a new global “green team” of more than 850 energy efficiency architects throughout IBM.
IBM expects to double the computing capacity of its own data centres over the next three years, without increasing power consumption or its carbon footprint. Based on greenhouse gas production, the size of a carbon footprint is determined by the amount of carbon dioxide that comes from human activities. Compared to building new space to double the size of its own data centres, IBM expects to help save more than five billion kilowatt hours of energy per year.
As a result of these initiatives, IBM was named the “Top Green IT Company for 2008” by IDG’s Computerworld. (Jon Brodkin, 2009)
IBM combined with Mainline developed a range of Products and Processes that combine Information Technology, energy efficiency and environmental responsibility, as well as address the following challenges in a company:
- Continued rise of overall energy costs and demand
- Cost of air conditioning to cool data centres and/or computer rooms
- Concern over power surges and energy shortages affecting business
- Government-imposed levies on carbon production and regulations on power consumption and waste
- Increased drive toward centralized data centres
- Too many servers that are partially used or not used to capacity
- Need for an environmentally safe way to dispose of old software or hardware
IBM and Mainliner’s energy-efficient IT solutions deliver an immediate and tangible return on investment for its customers by proven technologies and practices. (Jon Brodkin, 2009)
6. Benefits of Green IT
Green IT solutions benefit the environment, as well as the bottom-line. By focusing on Green Computing, an IT organization can:
- Lower overall energy expenses including general energy consumption, as well as power and cooling costs.
- Optimize server capacities and performance.
- Reduce data centre footprint, reclaiming valuable floor space through consolidation and/or virtualization.
- Provide required, rapid and secure access to data.
- Increase ease of systems and solutions management.
- Recycle end-of-life equipment.
- Recapture resiliency.
- Free-up budget components
In short, Green Computing enables companies to meet business demands for cost-effective, energy-efficient, flexible, secure and stable solutions while being environmentally responsible (Jon Brodkin, 2009)
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7. Five Steps to a Successful Green Computing Solution
Green Computing involves a range of services and technologies based on best practices for reducing energy usage. As noted above, IBM recommends a comprehensive five-step plan in developing energy-efficient, cost-effective, environmentally responsible information technology operations. Analyses of the five steps follow.
- Diagnose – It is difficult to manage what cannot be measured, particularly when it comes to energy efficiency. It is important for a company to collect accurate, detailed information on its energy efficiency as a first step in pinpointing areas for potential improvement and to identify existing systems ready for retirement. Mainline and IBM provides Energy Efficiency Assessments, which are proven tools for diagnosing the energy demands of physical infrastructure and IT equipment.
- Build – After identifying needs and solution requirements, and reviewing Energy Efficiency Assessments, the second step includes planning and designing the new solution including building or preparing facilities for replacements, migrations or upgrades. Implementing best practices, innovative technologies and solution expertise will result in improved operations while reducing costs.
- Virtualize – Virtualization can produce the fastest and greatest impact on energy efficiency in an information technology centre. Consolidating an IT infrastructure can increase utilization and lower annual power costs. Reducing the number of servers and storage devices through virtualization strategies can create a leaner data centre without sacrificing performance. Less complexity, reduced cost, better utilization and improved management are all benefits of server, storage and desktop virtualization, and helps achieve Green Computing.
- Manage – Data centre energy consumption is managed through provisioning and virtualization management software, providing important power alerts, as well as trending, capping and heat measurements. Such software can reduce power consumption by 80% annually.
- Cool – Excessive heat threatens equipment performance and operating stability. Innovative IBM cooling solutions for inside and outside the data centre minimize hotspots and reduce energy consumption. IBM’s patented Rear Door Heat exchanger “cooling doors” are now available across most IBM Systems offerings. While requiring no additional fans or electricity, they reduce server heat output in data centres up to 60% by utilizing chilled water to dissipate heat generated by computer systems.
Most IT Corporate, with little knowledge of how IT can help them measure and maintain their Carbon Reporting requirements are under prepared in the competition to go green. There are over 50 carbon reporting tools available – but fewer than 10% of organisations are using one. One half of all CIOs and IT managers take the environmental credentials of the vendor into account when buying products. One third of all user organisations have appointed someone in charge of Green IT, and another one third will do so this year (Excom 2008). These are main reasons why Green IT has to be on top of the list in the company’s annual budget.
Corporations, governments, and individuals alike can slash greenhouse emissions 50% from projected levels in 2030 by using technologies that already exist—as well as those in the pipeline.(Mckinsey Report, Green IT: Corporate Strategies). The report also says 40% of the recommended practices would save companies and organizations money too.
In other words, going green can mean dollars saved—clearly a motivating factor for the tech companies already pushing for more earth-saving IT policies, not to mention for those corporations outside the realm of tech that look at such reports to gauge how policies are evolving—and how to emulate them.
- San Murugesan,”Going Green with IT: Your Responsibility Toward Environmental Sustainability.” Cutter Consortium Business-IT Strategies Executive Report, Vol. 10, No. 8, August 2007.
- Jon Brodkin, 2009 “IBM claims top four ‘greenest’ supercomputers and 18 of top 19” Network World.
- http://www.greenit.net/whygreenit.html retrieved on 3/09/2009
- Gardiner, Bryan January-February 2008 “Harnessing Green IT: Principles and Practices,” IEEEIT Professional, pp 24-33.
- Segan, Sascha (2007-10-02). “Green Tech: Reduce, Reuse, That’s It”.PC Magazine
26(19): 56. Retrieved 2009-09-03.
- November 26, 2007, ‘Topic Overview: Green IT’ by Christopher Mines and Euan Davis for IT Infrastructure & Operations Professionals.
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