THE GREEN EDGE
Companies outsourcing IT projects are looking for vendors with sustainability
expertise—but they’re more concerned with rising energy costs than the environment, according to a Brown-Wilson Group and Black Book Research survey.
Conducted between January and March, the survey of 1,338 outsourcing
buyers showed that half of them consider green criteria during their IT procurement process.
“Green has secured a major role in the IT outsourcing decision-making and
vendor-selection process, and competing suppliers are peddling green credentials,” the study says.
But the environment isn’t the main factor driving the trend.
Six out of seven corporate officers say the adoption of green technology
is more likely a result of escalating energy costs than ecological altruism. And
97 percent of the 460 vendors surveyed cite high energy costs as the primary
reason for green IT initiatives.
IT data centers are the focal point—about 83 percent of U.S. and U.K. companies that purchase IT outsourcing functions have established detailed
strategies for their data centers to be more energy efficient.
Server virtualization, cloud computing and storage virtualization ranked
among the top green efficiency initiatives that clients recommended their outsourcing vendors address.
More than 98 percent of those surveyed said green strategy will become an
important factor in vendor selection over the next two years, particularly in the
United States and Japan.
Not all vendors are created equal when it comes to green, however—82 percent of respondents said outsourcing suppliers are not delivering on promised
The study revealed sustainability skills of vendors varies widely by region,
outsource destination and industry.
Suppliers in Sweden, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and India
were ranked among the most mature in green initiatives. At the opposite end of
the spectrum, Mexico, Russia, China, the Philippines and Brazil came in among
the least responsive.
IT projects is power usage effectiveness
(PUE). Developed by advocacy group
Green Grid, the PUE is calculated by
dividing the amount of power entering a
data center by the power used to run the
computer infrastructure within it.
“The closer you are to 1.0, the more
efficient you are,” Mr. Del Campo says.
“We look at every service related to
energy use in the data center and try to
reduce our use.”
The team analyzes previous projects,
evaluates new technology and considers
what improvements can be achieved
within an established budget.
“There will always be limitations,” Mr.
Del Campo says. For example, local utilities may not offer green power sources and
existing facilities may have layout or other
infrastructure issues that rule out certain
choices. “Our main challenge is to understand the limitations we are faced with and
find ways to overcome what we can.”
Sometimes it helps if companies find a
partner that can help sort through all the
different shades of green—and maybe
even spot ways to save money.
As part of a recent series of energy efficiency and virtualization projects,
Global Crossing slashed the number of
servers in its primary centers from 350 to
just 14, says Gabriel Del Campo, London,
England-based global product manager
and vice president of data centers Europe,
Middle East and Africa.
“We are very conscious of the fact
that efficiency is closely related to green
technology,” Mr. Del Campo says. “We
know that we can reduce our costs by
But he says the dramatic improvement
was not the result of a single project.
“Every time we build a new data center or meet a new efficiency target, we
have metrics in place to benchmark our
results and we use those results to improve
our processes,” Mr. Del Campo says.
At Global Crossing and many other
companies, the primary gauge for green
Last year, Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
(PG&E), a utility company in San
Francisco, California, USA, handed out
millions of dollars in incentives and
rebates to support green IT projects.
Data management company NetApp,
for example, received a US$1.4 million
rebate for a project to boost the energy
efficiency at its engineering data center.
The project included environmentally
friendly, uninterruptible power supply
systems, energy-efficient transformers,
outside air economizers and a variable
primary chiller plant. All that work will
deliver a PUE of less than 1. 3.
PG&E estimates NetApp will slash its
usage by 11. 1 million kilowatt hours each
year. That translates to savings of approximately US$1.2 million and a reduction of
carbon dioxide emissions by 3,391 tons.
“The payback for these projects is
incredible,” says Mark Bramfitt, principal
program manager at PG&E.