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The necessity of green IT

Power costs are no laughing matter

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The keynote speaker at the recent Network World IT Roadmap conference in Dallas emphasised the importance of going green by highlighting this fact: IT accounted for 4% of electricity consumption in 2008 and will account for 40% by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency.

What's worse, says keynoter Frederic Chanfrau, a senior VP of IT at Schneider Electric (the company that bought APC), electricity demands will double by 2030, making IT a prime culprit in the global warming problem. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we have to cut CO2 emissions in half by 2050 to avoid dramatic climate changes.

Chanfrau says Schneider is concentrating its green efforts on going lean (consolidating data centres and apps and virtualising servers and storage), and getting more efficient (using more efficient servers, adopting new data centre designs and measuring power usage more closely, among other things). His main message: It doesn't have to cost you more to do the right thing. Savings can offset costs.

All of which reminded me to check in on the progress of the Climate Savers Computing Initiative (CSCI), a collaborative effort launched in mid-2007 and backed by Cisco, CSC, Dell, Emerson Network Power, Google, HP, Intel, Juniper, Microsoft and others.

CSCI set out the ambitious goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 54 million metric tons annually by the end of the 2010 programme year (which passed in June) by specifying usage of more efficient computer power supplies and increased utilisation of power management functions.

While CSCI members can contribute a lot to the effort given their size and role in the industry, the group was counting on others following their lead, making it possible to reduce the equivalent of 11 million cars worth of CO2 emissions.

How goes the effort? CSCI recently retained consultancy Natural Logic to report on the group's progress, which estimated that desktops, notebooks and servers shipped over the last three years with power supplies that meet CSCI ratings resulted in a reduction of 36.8 metric tons of CO2 emissions, 68% of the goal.

The shortcoming was attributed to slower than expected adoption of power management features on desktops and notebooks, Natural Logic says. CSCI had assumed these features would be used by 90% of those devices "by the end of 2010, but the latest research shows it is only around 10% (22% at the most)."

That's where you may be able to help today. If you haven't done so already, advocating more stringent power settings for your fleet of client devices can pay real dividends, both in your electricity costs and for the global good on the CO2 front. That's a win/win.


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