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The purpose of this research is to succinctly set out the significance of implementation of Green Computing via Cloud Computing in some organizations in and around Glasgow, Scotland, UK. The nature of this work is Applied Management Consultancy Project, which clearly defines the green computing concepts in the organization's point of view. Later, the key findings of the Green Computing practices of an organization will be compared with some of the other organizations in the same business sector and will make some recommendations to the small and medium organizations (SMEs) to implement Green Computing particularly in Cloud Computing.
2. Research Background:
What is Green Computing?
Green Computing is also commonly referred to as Green IT. The term green computing was coined shortly after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the Energy Star program in 1992. Energy Star program is designed to promote and recognize energy-efficiency in computers, monitors, climate control equipment, major appliances, lighting, and other technologies. It generally covers the power consumption-related issues.
Recent sustainable trends have further modified the meaning of the green computing. The current definition is much broader and refers to the efficient use of computing technology via e-waste reduction, regulatory compliance, telecommuting technologies, virtualization of server resources, cost accounting of energy use, thin client solutions, and more. (D-Link Corp, 2009)
Historically, computers have posed serious issues to the environment. Like other electronics, computers typically contain toxic chemicals like arsenic, lead and mercury. Above that, computers consume more electricity, contributing to the energy crisis, CO2 emissions and global warming. Many computers end up with landfills after their useful lifecycles are over. Fortunately, there are a few green technologies which marches the manufacturers towards greener computers. (Claerr, J. 2010)
The proliferation of data centres requires the constant addition of servers to cater the needs, cooling and ventilation equipment that led to an ever-increasing demand of energy and increased presence of toxic and hazardous substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium and others. This made us to look at the ways to apply green technology in computing to mitigate the serious environmental and health concerns.
Some of the classical examples of the green technology applications in computing include:
Reducing the use of environmentally hazardous materials like Chloro-Floro Carbons (CFC), lead and others.
Promoting the use of recyclable materials and minimizing use of non-biodegradable components.
Promoting practices such as energy cost accounting, virtualization, eWaste recycling and so on.
Application of technology with change in lifestyle habits aimed at energy conservation. (Nayab, N. 2010)
The four paths to green computing to attain environmental sustainability are:
Reducing energy consumption of computers and other related products as well as using them in an efficient manner.
Refurbishing and reusing the old computers as well as properly disposing, recycling unwanted computers and other equipment.
Designing energy efficient and environmentally sound computers and accessories.
Manufacturing computers and components with minimal effects on the environment.
Green Computing in Work Places:
Organizations all over the world are beginning to understand their corporate social responsibility towards the environment. Most companies believe in conserving energy, power and using environmentally friendly products that helps in reducing their carbon footprint. In fact, most of the organizations have put the need for green computing in the top of the agenda.
Organizations have to follow these simple steps for creating the green computing awareness in their work places:
Announcing the green intension to the employees.
Setting up a committee to form a Green IT Plan.
Centralization of all desktops.
Using efficient computer applications.
Power management tactics.
Business performance enhancement. (Orfano, F. 2010)
The most common actions organizations have undertaken are:
Virtualization: Virtualization is the consolidation of servers and systems to reduce power consumption and energy utilization. It leads to usage of more than one system on a single piece of physical hardware. This allows minimum power consumption and maximum cooling.
Power Saving: Manufactures are making the computer components in compliance with industry standards set by the government which results in power saving and controlling.
Telecommuting: Employees working off the office facility will reduce the fuel emission that is created during commuting by vehicles. Moreover, there is a reduction in overhead charges like light and electricity. All these results in increased power and energy savings.
VoIP: VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) results in less telephone wiring and lower costs.
Achieving Green Computing Via Cloud Computing:
Green Computing and Cloud Computing are the most debatable IT topics today. Let us examine how cloud computing can help an organization in its goal for green IT. Moreover, a green IT initiative may be a reason to use cloud computing.
As energy costs keep going up, it makes sense for a business to conserve in the most apt section. IT is one department where power consumption is a large budgetary concern. A business may or may not need the full computing capability of modern servers all the times. But most of the times, those computers would sit idle, still consuming energy and costing money.
Here's where cloud computing may be able to save energy and money for the business. Gartner (2011) defined cloud computing as "a style of computing where massively scalable IT-enabled capabilities are delivered 'as a service' to external customers using Internet technologies".
Jay (2010) says "Cloud computing gives small and medium-sized companies a way to avoid having to invest in difficult and expensive IT capabilities that they aren't good at, and which aren't helping them to be more competitive. Large companies can look at cloud computing as a model for better use of their internal data centre resources for starters."
Smith (2009), the CEO of Kynetix Technology Group, argues that there is a huge hype surrounding cloud computing but despite of it, most of the higher level executives and IT decision makers agree that it is a real technology option. Vendor organizations like Amazon, Google, Microsoft and salesforce.com have invested millions in setting up cloud computing platforms, which they offer to third parties. Being an emerging technology, it comes up with the set of advantages and disadvantages.
5 reasons to consider adopting cloud computing:
Scalability: Scalability is the key aspect of the cloud computing. It is the ability of the platform to expand or contrast automatically based on the capacity needs. Cloud Computing provides resources on-demand for many of the scaling points that an organization needs including servers, storage and networking. When the demand grows for the resources, it expands the capacity of allocation of resources and vice versa. There is no over-provision for the peaks.
This would be advantageous for the newer or small players in the market. With easy access to a cost effective, flexible technology platform, small competitors can punch well above their capacity and scalability and can quickly turn into significant adversaries.
Cost Saving: McKinsey recently published a report claiming that there was no cost saving in having this technology and in contrary, it could be way more expensive. On the other hand, a report by Forrester emphasis the fact that use of cloud computing matches cash flow to system benefits more appropriately than the traditional model.
Research firm IDC summed it up as "The cloud model offers a much cheaper way for businesses to acquire and use IT. In an economic downturn the appeal of that cost advantage will be greatly magnified."
Business Agility: One of the understated advantages of cloud computing is that it enables an organization to be more agile. The speed at which new computing capacity can be requisitioned is a vital element of cloud computing. Adding additional storage, network bandwidth, memory, computing power, etc can be done rapidly and often instantaneously.
This dynamic, elastic nature of cloud computing gives a big advantage over on in-house data centre.
Built-in Disaster Recovery & Back-Up Sites: Typical disaster recovery costs are estimated at twice the cost of the infrastructure. With a cloud-based model, true disaster recovery is estimated to cost a little more than the costs because cloud service providers replicate their data, even the loss of one or two data centres will not result in lost data.
Device & Location Independent: Cloud Computing enable greater device independence, greater portability and greater opportunities for interconnection and collaboration. With applications and data located in the cloud it becomes much easier to enable users to access systems regardless of their location or what device they are using.
With the growing use of smartphones, netbooks and other hand-held devices there is also an increasing need for data access to go. Location based applications will reach their potential through cloud computing. Many smartphones are now equipped with built-in GPS technology that takes advantage of this capability.
It's Greener! In a cloud computing environment, resources are shared across applications resulting in greater use of the resources for a similar energy costs. For corporations spread over different time zones the computing power lying idle at one geographical location (during off work hours) could be harnessed at a location in a different time zone. This not only reduces the power consumption but also the amount of physical hardware required.
With cloud computing virtual offices can be quickly set up. Employees can work from home. Above all, the level of carbon footprint can be reduced.
5 Reasons to Consider Avoiding Cloud Computing:
Security: In some of the recent surveys done about cloud computing, the major issue concerned by most of the organizations is data security. There is a thought that holding one's data in the cloud is not much more insecure than having it on the internal servers connected to the Internet.
Companies need to be more realistic about the level of security they achieve inside their own business, and how that might compare to a cloud provider. There is still some work has to be done before formalizing the standards. Organizations like the Cloud Security Alliance are at the forefront of addressing these issues.
Data Location & Privacy: Data in a cloud computing environment has to exist on physical servers somewhere in the world and the physical location of those servers is important under many nations' law. This is important for the companies as different countries have different privacy policies concerned with the data.
Internet Dependency, Performance & Latency: There is a concern of many companies that the Cloud computing relies on the availability, quality and performance of their internet connection. Organizations considering investing in cloud computing by taking up the costs for improving the network infrastructure required to run applications in the cloud.
Latency is certainly an issue for certain applications. There are many cloud computing commentators who claim that these applications will never support cloud computing. However, vendors like Jupiter and IBM are already demonstrating the low latency capabilities in the cloud.
Availability and Service Levels: One of the most common concerns regarding cloud computing is the potential for downtime if the system isn't available to use. Every minute of downtime can not only affect the revenue but can also cause reputation damage.
Current Enterprise Applications Can't Be Migrated Easily: Moving the existing application to a cloud platform is not as easy as it might first appear. In reality, most organizations that adopt cloud computing will end up doing it with new applications. Existing applications will probably continue to run on-premise for some time.
In the Priority Matrix (see below diagram) Gartner has categorized Cloud Computing as a transformational technology which will move into mainstream adoption in the 2 to 5 years timeframe.
Source: Cloud Computing Research, Gartner Inc.
3. Aim & Objectives:
Aim: To explore the value of green computing in particular cloud computing in the organizations within the Glasgow area.
Theoretically evaluate green computing via cloud computing technology in the present market environment.
Critically evaluate the extent of uptake of Green Computing technology by larger organizations at Glasgow.
Critically examining stakeholder's views of cloud computing practices.
Assessing the benefits and challenges caused due to uptake of green computing in particular cloud computing.
Collecting the feedback from Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) about cloud computing using data collection tools.
Formulate recommendations to the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) based on the feedback received about the Green Computing from the organizations.
4. Methodological Framework:
Miller (1983) states that, Methodology is a body of knowledge that enables researchers to explain and analyse methods- indicating their limitations and resources, identify their presuppositions and consequences, and relating their potentialities to research advances.
Therefore the research methodology is vital to any study. The relations between research paradigms, type of data and data collection methods have significant implications upon the research findings.
The Research Onion Process ( Saunders et al, 2007, pp 132)
The above figure illustrates different layers and approaches that are available and must be consistently employed when conducting a research. In accordance with the research onion, prior data collection and analysis techniques can be determined.
Different elements of the research onion process are explained below:
4.1 Research Philosophy:
A research philosophy is a belief about the way data about a phenomenon should be collected and analysed (Levin 1988). The research philosophy chosen for this work is the interpretive research philosophy. This approach is adopted because it is identified as a successful form of research in the fields of virtual computing and Green IT. This approach enables researchers to get close to the participants, to "penetrate their internal logic and interpret their subjective understanding of reality" (Shaw, 1999).
The interpretist approach to research is based on the assumption that research participants respond in a subjective way, Saunders et al (2003) indicate that the interpretist approach draws meaning through the interpretation of events and attempts to understand the subjective reality of those that they study in order to make sense and understand their motives, actions, and intensions.
4.2 Research Approach:
There are two research approaches which can be used by the researcher, the deductive or quantitative approach and the inductive or qualitative approach. This research adopted an inductive or qualitative approach. "Qualitative research has the potential to inform public policies, existent social movements, and daily community life" (Fine and Weis, 1996). But more importantly because qualitative research looks the world from the viewpoint of the people working in the organizations, doing particular jobs, they are the respondents and they provide the information what they do and what they think.
The qualitative approach enabled the researcher to study in detail (Irvine and Gaffikin, 2006). The data collection is not limited to predetermined categories; a qualitative methodology allows the researcher to test an existing theoretical framework and to study the issue in depth (Patton, 1991).
4.3 Research Strategy:
The research strategy adopted here is Archival Research and Case Study. Case study research is particularly appropriate for research which deals with practice based problems where the experiences of the people who get involved are important, and the context of the action is critical (Bonoma, 1983). Cepeda and Martin (2006) believe that a case study strategy is well suited to capturing the knowledge of practitioners and documenting the experiences of practice.
Robson (2002) defines the case study approach as a strategy for doing research which involves the investigation of a particular contemporary phenomenon within its real life context and the case study approach can be a worthwhile way of exploring existing theory and a simple case study can enable existing theory to be challenged (Saunders et al, 2003).
4.3.1 Research Process:
The process of research includes the semi-interview sessions with some organizations as research interviews are only one of the qualitative research methods, others being questionnaires and observations. The research interview has been selected because it allows the researcher to get as close as possible to the world of managers and enables the researcher to interpret this world.
4.4 Research Choices:
For any case study, multiple methods are apt if it involves in multiple data collection and analysis procedures. This method is restricted to use either qualitative or quantitative data. As the research carries on with the divergent data collected through archival research and case studies, the researcher has to use the qualitative data which includes both primary and secondary data.
The key benefit for this method is data triangulation. Bryman states that, Triangulation refers to the use of more than one approach to the investigation of a research question in order to enhance confidence in the ensuing findings.
4.5 Research Time Horizons:
The research time horizons will be defined with the help of Gannt Chart. The project's summary and terminal elements which combine to form the project's internal structure are shown on Gannt chart. The Gannt Chart can be illustrated as below:
4.6 Research Techniques and Procedures:
Research techniques and the procedure followed to collect the data, which in turn helps the research is the heart of the fruitful outcome. A researcher has to employ different data collection tools to fulfil the requirement of the research. The data collection tools include questionnaire survey, interviews, focus groups, observation and secondary data review. But for this research work, observation will be applied in the first stage followed by interviews and secondary data review for the final outcome.
Saunders et al (2003) believe there is a need to create a full record of the interview soon after its occurrence as one means to control bias and to produce reliable data for analysis. He has identified some of the advantage and disadvantages with this approach.
Allows interviewer to concentrate on questioning and listening.
Allows questions formulated at an interview to be accurately recorded for use in later interviews where appropriate.
Can re-listen to the interview. Accurate and unbiased record provided.
Allows direct quotes to be used permanent record for others to use
May adversely affect the relationship between interviewee and interviewer.
May inhibit some interviewee responses and reduce reliability.
Possibility of a technical problem
Disruption to discussion when changing tape.
Time required transcribing the tape.
5. Plan, Ethical Considerations & Critical Analysis:
5.1 Study Plan:
The plan of study on this research is mainly based on the primary and secondary data collected in the due course. At the first instance, literature about the green technologies will be reviewed and study the market's response to this emerging technology. Later, primary data from the various organizations in and around the Glasgow city will be collected which underpins the concept. Once all the information and feedback gathered from the participants, will propose recommendations to some of the small and medium enterprises around the Glasgow area.
5.2 Ethical Consideration:
The research was undertaken in a manner which ensures that participants are able to be confident that their privacy and confidentiality will be properly protected.
Saunders et al (2003) identify participant's rights as being
Not to participate.
Not to be harassed or offered inducements beyond the scope of participation.
To be contacted at reasonable times.
To determine, within reason, when they will participate in the data collection process.
To expect the researcher to abide by the extent of the consent given.
Not to be subject to any attempt to prolong the duration of an interview.
Not to answer any question, or set of questions.
Not to be subjected to questions that creates stress or discomfort.
To expect agreed anonymity and confidentiality to be observed strictly both in relations to discussions and during the reporting of the data.
Hence, before gathering the data, it is a good practice for a researcher to make sure that the participants are aware of these ethical considerations.
5.3 Challenges & Limitations:
Qualitative research is based on the researcher gaining an understanding of the meaning in a social context of theory. Qualitative research is associated with capturing richness and fullness through the exploration of the subject. However, Robson (2002) has mentioned that the more ambiguous and elastic the concept the less possible it is to qualify the data in a meaningful way.
The research is confined to limited resources from the organization. As Green Technology particularly cloud computing is an emerging technology in the UK, the result can't be predicted in the positive way. However, methodological approach has to be followed to project the data in an effective way and create some use to the SMEs in Glasgow.