Green IT to become a strategic imperative

by Sohini Bagchi    Jun 20, 2013

green tech

Green IT and sustainability are not new concepts in the corporate world, but for some time, businesses thought of it as an optional investment and were skeptical of its benefits. It was only during the global recession that a radical jump in the cost of energy prompted certain new generation CIOs and decision makers to embrace sustainability. Very recently enterprises consider green IT as a bona fide means to cost-efficiency. According to researchers, despite the mostly flat IT budgets in several parts of the globe, green IT will continue to grow steadily in the coming months. 

A key priority

“Today sustainability is a strategic imperative. For a growing number of companies sustainability is serving as a key differentiator in the market as it not only helps drive performance but also fuels top line growth,” mentions Karen Butner, Global Sustainability & SCM Research Director for the IBM Institute for Business Value in his recent report “Driving Performance to Sustainability”. She explains that with business leaders looking to reduce costs by minimizing energy, water usage and carbon emission sustainability and green IT are topics that should be discussed in the boardrooms.

According to IBM, for organizations deploying green, growing awareness on climate change, need for better analytic and carbon footprint tools are several drivers to green sustainable IT. Butner points out several companies are already investing in smart grid and renewable energy sources as part of their sustainable initiatives.

In the next 1-2 years, analysts predict an uptake in data centre infrastructure management tools that will lead to a greater consolidation of IT infrastructure, more sophisticated monitoring and reporting of energy use, which in turn will drive down energy costs.

For enterprises, data center virtualization will continue to be the most prevalently deployed green IT initiatives. Data center virtualization consolidates physical servers into pools of virtual resources that promise to reduce energy usage. An obvious way to reduce power consumption in data centers is to decommission unused or underperforming servers, which virtualization makes possible. Ovum forecasts by 2015, over two third of enterprises across the globe will deploy this technology.

Experts also expect the green IT growth momentum to continue across technologies and areas such as desktop virtualization, printing and document management and power management tools for PCs and monitors.

For a growing number of companies sustainability is serving as a key differentiator in the market as it not only helps drive performance but also fuels top line growth.
-Karen Butner, Global Sustainability & SCM Research Director for the IBM Institute for Business Value

The green drive

The overall trend for green IT looks optimistic, with a growing number of CIOs saying they plan to deploy green IT during the next couple of years. CIOs of forward looking companies are concentrating on sustainability. Godrej for example, has crafted a long-term vision named ‘Godrej Good and Green’. “In all our products we have been focusing on becoming carbon neutral, with a positive water balance and 30 per cent renewable energy,” says P Ganesh is Executive VP - Finance and Commercial of Godrej Consumer Products in a statement. The company slashed energy use in making Good Knight coils by 8.5 percent. The company has shifted from the PVC packaging products to the more environmentally sustainable PET packaging, and re-engineered changes in product design to make it more environmentally sustainable and also switched to paperless processing. “These goals are a crucial part of our business planning discussions and we have made specific commitments towards achieving them,” he states.

IT vendors are also playing a key role in applying technology and services to sustainability initiatives. IBM has been one of the pioneers in sustainable initiatives. Other vendors such as NetApp has long been driving the concept of Green IT through its energy efficient storage systems, thereby considerably bringing down the carbon footprint of datacenters. “Our facilities and IT teams work together to optimize the energy efficiency and performance of our data centers, and by sharing these best practices, we enable our customers to Go further, faster in an environmentally responsible manner,” says Rajesh Awasthi- Director, Telecom & Cloud Service Provider, NetApp India. 

Even small and mid-sized vendors are marching forward in the sustainability race. BuildingIQ, a leading energy management software company is bullish on Green IT and Sustainability efforts. Michael Zimmerman, CEO of BuildingIQ says that the company’s cloud-based software integrates with the existing building energy management system (BEMS) was designed to solve the energy efficiency challenges in commercial buildings which can reduce energy costs by as much as 25 percent. He sees an increased demand in these solutions that require less capital expenditure and can provide a quick return on investment through reductions in energy consumption.

Education and awareness play a major role in green and sustainable initiatives and for that CXOs need to involve their employees in the process, says Anand Naik Symantec. The company has identified Green Teams to promote on-site recycling through awareness-raising campaigns and systemic changes to properly sort waste. The team also monitors paper and other resource conservation. “We have developed practices and software tools that apply techniques such as clustering and data deduplication to reduce overall data storage needs. These technologies have enabled customers to realize tremendous efficiencies,” he says.

Experts believe green IT will continue to enjoy a strong buoyancy because businesses now understand its business value in cutting costs and increasing efficiency and this will get reflected in their IT spending in the coming years.