What Will It Take To Make IT Go Green?

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Whether they act to stave off a global crisis, or a meltdown in their own budgets, IT professionals need to have better information if they are going to clean up their act.

The IT sector is one of the least green business areas in the world – despite the fact that it has tools to hand, which could make it one of the most sustainable, and help other sectors in the process. The only thing that could start the change will be better information about the threats and opportunities, said experts in a debate at the NetEvents industry gathering in Barcelona.

“I don’t think anyone can be in any doubt that climate change exists, and we need to start planning for this,”, said Pat Chapman-Pincher, chief executive of the Cavell Group. “It’s a business risk like any other and it is one we cannot ignore. What will it do to your supply chain if your off-shored supplier is underwater?”

Besides surviving the consequences, IT people have a duty to try and prevent the worst happening, said Sharifah Amirah, principal analyst for ICT in Europe, for Frost and Sullivan, arguing they should be “ecosustainable,” making a net positive impact on the environment.

At the moment, ICT is one of the least green sectors of the business world, said Amirah, but change will be driven at least partly by the need – and the opportunity – to reduce energy costs. “It is a billion dollar opportunity,” said Chapman-Pincher.

“Most Americans did not understand this until three years ago,” said Steel. “Things will fundamentally change, now US companies have have realised there is a buck in it.”

However, while the recession is adding pressure to reduce costs, it may also limit the benefits, if energy cost fall. “Energy costs are a big part of companies’ bills,” said Brad Booth, chair of the Ethernet Alliance.”But if the energy cost comes down [due to falling demand in a recession], is that an incentive not to go green?”

“Sometimes you have to spend to save,” pointed out Rick Moy, president of NSS Labs, “It’s like trying to kick the smoking habit. You may have to invest in a patch and some medicine, but long term there are health benefits.” Getting more efficient servers in a refresch can cut the power bill from £4 or £5 per server down to £1 or £2.

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