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Green IT management: Ways to start off your eco initiatives

Sharon D'Souza, Reporter

While the world is going green in a big way – green buildings, energy-efficient lightings et al – the domain of information technology is also waking up to the advantages of implementation of green IT management.

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For instance, a typical 10,000 sq ft data center consumes more electricity than 8,000 60-watt light bulbs, according to scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. This represents six to 10 times the power needed to operate a typical office building at peak demand. Now the IT domain has realized that these are more than just huge figures. These numbers represent enough reasons why green IT management needs to be looked at seriously (than being treated as mere hype). As a result, organizations are looking at green IT management not just as a project, but as an initiative that shall change the face of their work ethic and environment.

For Hilal Khan the head of IT at Honda Motor India Pvt. Ltd, green IT management is an extension of his corporate culture.  Justifying the need for green IT management, Khan states, “There is a great influence of the clean environment concept during the manufacture of automobiles. This is bound to penetrate through to the organizational level. This green concept then converts from the organization to the department. So the entire concept cannot be just hypocrisy.”

Honda’s team believes that green IT is more than just about changing servers. If the internal user considers green IT management as an essential aspect, that culture can be extended to influence the external user (the consumer), to change purchasing habits. 

Green IT management holds self-importance: Today, the green IT management concept is so much talked about that the management has to give a listening ear to the CIO. The case cannot be blindly dismissed by people above a particular level. In fact in every organization, awareness is building up on the role that green IT management has to play in its growth. Hence, there is no need for a crusade to be drawn up; the need if pressing and logical will have to be passed. Since the trend of green IT management is likely to catch up in a big way sooner or later, it is much better if the realization sets in at the earliest. Further in order to avoid defilement of the green methodology, partners are to be sought that share the same work ethic. 

Move forward, bit by bit: An easier way to venture into green IT management is by proposing changes during an upgrade rather than going in for a complete overhaul of systems. While there is a need for an upgrade, the company may as well take measures with regard to redundancies towards achieving its goal of green IT management.

Scalability benefits: A benefit that is at play in the side of green IT management is its scalable nature. Therefore, the CIO is able to get more done at a lesser cost. That has to be the crux of any argument that the CIO is trying to make in favor of green IT management.

Technologies like thin client-server architecture can also help. In this case, it’s not just the case of dumb terminals anymore. Rather than having the applications running on desktops, they can be hosted on a server. The desktops can be added as per the requirements. This will save costs and ensure that the larger chunk of energy consumption occurs at a single point. Eventually, it will also save on costs like networking and hardware.

Green IT management spells high RoI? Though, the general mind block is that the initial implementation cost of green IT management is expensive, lowering capex (capital expenses) and opex (operating expenses) are the key factors through which a CIO can influence the management to go for green IT. This can be done by reducing overall energy costs while creating a flexible and efficient infrastructure, which also helps in deferring capital expenses.

 While delving deeper into the issue of green IT management and RoI, Sesanka Pemmaraju, the IT director and CISO at Sierra Atlantic suggests, “Capex in IT is all about computing power. We should consolidate the computing power through cloud computing, virtualization of servers, desktops and thin provisioning of storage. Opex in IT would predominantly be in terms of data center maintenance costs like cooling, power and bandwidth.” He advocates green IT management for cutting costs. According to him, by moving in the direction of cloud computing and virtualization, organizations can save huge money in operational expenses. For a CFO it’s “penny saved is penny earned”. Reduction in capex and opex through server virtualization, storage consolidation, virtual desktops with thin clients, LCD monitors (in lieu of CRTs) and so on enable savings of up to 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the IT budget. This needs to be demonstrated to the CFO by comparing numbers with that of yesteryears. Adopting steps such as setting laptops to go into hibernation or standby mode within five minutes of non-usage will help with regard to achieving the goal of green IT management, according to Pemmaraju.

Apart from cutting costs, adoption of green IT management will help in saving resources as well. Simple measures could be a start to prove a point in favor of green IT management, and then larger ventures could be taken on in this direction. Ranjit Satyanath, the senior general manager for solutions and technology at Shoppers Stop explains, “Last year we replaced all the lights in our stores & offices with energy-efficient ones. Even with the downturn, we managed to save almost 7 million units of power. This was one of the reasons we were profitable. The recession year has been able to provide profits owing to technology such as these. “

Go for green IT management and get certified: Disposal of e-waste by identifying a certified e-wastage processing partner and getting your company certified by them whenever e-waste is disposed or recycled, adds to a company’s green IT management credentials. For example, every company is now concerned about reducing the carbon footprint and carbon credits come in to play here. These credits can be traded just like shares and may help recover the capex cost of the green IT management implementation.

Among the other benefits of green IT management, companies appreciate creation of a paperless office to a certain extent and encourage two-side printing on stationery. Other measures like procuring EPA-rated (Environmental Protection Agency-rated) electric and electronic equipment, as well as getting energy and power audits done once a year can also help.

Thus green IT management is neither just hype nor can it be confined to being an image-building tool for companies. Also, green IT management is not just a trend to cash in or a mere flavor of the month. Instead, green IT management needs to be looked at from a broader perspective that includes recycling and conservation as key areas as also common reasons such as cutting costs and saving resources.