Greening IT beyond the data center
At the Business Goes Green conference in San Jose, Calif., on June 6, Christopher Mines, senior vice president of Forrester Research, talks about strategies managers can use to green IT in areas of an organization outside the data center. Mines discusses ideas such as implementing telecommuting initiatives, deploying video conferencing systems, and setting up training programs to educate employees on going green.
Greening IT beyond the data center
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Christopher Mines: If we think about the posture of IT organizations in large companies for more or less 50 years, it's a cost center. It's a service organization. It's one of those places where the you know what rolls down hill into that part of the company. So, my challenge and pitch to the IT organization is Change that posture and use green as a catalyst to change the posture of IT relative to the rest of the organization. Build on the natural advantages that IT has. Think about it, IT touches every location, every employee, every business process in most large companies are to a greater and greater extent enabled by, dependent on IT.
Use that. Use that leverage and use the tangible hard dollars savings that green IT can bring within the IT organization to do some jujitsu on the rest of the organization and really position IT as a role model, as a leader, as a strategy contributor to the company's efforts to go green. And we talk about just a couple of places where that happens, and again I'm amplifying the examples that Allison showed in the talk right before me.
So, this is things like putting video conferencing in place to cut down on business travel. It's things like optimizing supply chain practices. A great example from Allison on, now I forget if it was UPS or FedEx or which color the trucks were, but anyway one of those delivery guys. Reducing commuting, employee commuting for many non manufacturing firms is their number one source of carbon emissions. So, enabling work at home through collaboration and conferencing kinds of technologies, the so called unified communications sweets of technologies that companies can put in place. And again, there's a great example right where it is not just the technology issue, in fact most companies tell me that work at home is about 20% technology and about 80% process and behavior change. Right?
The managers who freak out because they think their folks are at home watching Oprah or sitting around in their pajamas or whatever. Right? So it's process and behavior more so than technology that's going to enable that kind of change, but IT still is going to be a crucial supplier enabler catalyst for making that happen. Another great example is building automation. Again, for many firms the building footprint, their real estate, each back footprint, number one or two source of carbon emissions for the overall firm.
So what can IT do? Well, IT probably owns the most tightly managed piece of real estate that a company has, its data center. Where the environment is tuned, is managed very tightly, there are systems, dashboards, software, instrumentation throughout at least some data centers, not the one I showed you a couple of minutes ago, but many corporate data centers highly instrumented, highly tuned to provide the perfect environment, the meat locker environment that servers and storage gear love.
What about extending that expertise, that set of instrumentation, that set of software capabilities, that set of analytical business intelligence kinds of capabilities across all of the facilities of the company, not just the data center environment. Well, there are some IT organizations that get this. There are many IT suppliers that get this and are working hard to push systems management, power management, data center management out beyond the data center and into the broader set of facilities that their customers have.