FORGET THE ENVIRONMENT. Or at least just put those carbon- cutting concerns to the side for a moment. That’s not to say green IT projects won’t help the planet, but hey’re really about saving money— sometimes a lot of money. “Being green is just one concern of many in green IT projects,” says Priscila Duarte, PMP, project manager at Nokia Siemens Network, São Paulo, Brazil. “Companies don’t virtualize their servers just because it’s green. That may be a point of benefit, but they are primarily looking to reduce costs and
Sustainable technology covers a wide
range. It can be as basic as eliminating
duplicate and out-of-date applications.
Or, it can be as ambitious as investing in
virtualization technology that spreads
the capacity load of applications
among fewer servers linked by software.
Pair either of those with cutting-edge
water- and air-treatment systems and a
company can immediately see a serious
drop in its carbon load and its energy bills.
Like many projects, though, you’ve
got to spend money to save money.
Plugging into sustainability requires an
up-front investment. And sometimes
it’s a significant one. Of course, securing
those funds as budgets are being
slashed can take some doing.
“Given the economy, the US$10 mil-lion-sized projects to build a new energy-efficient data center are few and far
between,” says Chris Mines, an analyst
at Forrester Research, Cambridge,
Massachusetts, USA. “These days, we are
seeing a lot more initiatives focused on
squeezing more out of the technology and
data centers that companies already have.”
Yet even smaller-scale projects, such as
getting rid of multiple copies of the same
software to free up server space and lessen
the power load, come with a price tag.
“You need to dedicate people to doing
assessments and you have to buy the de-duplication software,” Mr. Mines explains.
Adding yet another wrinkle is the
situation that arises when the people
asking for the money aren’t the ones
who pay the energy bills.
“The IT department is typically in
the position to make an investment in
energy efficiency, but the facilities team
pays the energy bills and it’s their budget
that will see the payoff,” Mr. Mines says.
So unless the IT project managers
team up with their counterparts in the
facilities and finance departments,
green IT projects can fail to take root.
Start with an
IN SEARCH OF A CHAMPION
assessment of how
you really use.
“So many companies go into
this without understanding
how much energy they use or
any idea of what a realistic
reduction goal is,” says Chris
Mines, Forrester Research,
USA. “Until you do an
assessment and look at what
other companies have
accomplished, it’s difficult
to decide what order
of magnitude you can
Ideally, the three groups will come
together under the guidance of an executive or business owner who has an
overview of all the departments and can
see the long-term benefits of sustainability,
says Raymond Vredenburg, Amsterdam,
Netherlands-based product marketing
director at Global Crossing, a computer
networking services provider.
“They are the ones who can see the
overall impact—if you invest here, you
will see results there,” he says. “These
business owners can champion the
projects and make that possible.”
Launching a green IT project requires
trust and a willingness to cooperate
among the three groups. “You have to
share the costs and the rewards to make
these projects work,” Mr. Vredenburg says.
Thomas R. Furlani, Ph.D., knew it
was going to take a team effort to
launch a server upgrade project at his
facility, the Center for Computational
Research at the University of Buffalo,
Buffalo, New York, USA.
Dr. Furlani had already received a
US$300,000 grant from the New York
State Energy Research and Development
Authority (NYSERDA) in late 2008 for
the revamp. However, the stipend stipulated he had to receive a 50 percent
match from the university.
Asking for the money was a delicate
process, he jokes, because there’s always
a little distrust between facilities
management and IT.
“I told them the university could save
US$150,000 a year in power and cooling
costs if I replaced the old servers—