This year will see a surge in CIO interest and vendor initiatives in eco-friendly computing, according to a recent report by independent market analyst Datamonitor.
The information is based on the results of an independent survey that revealed that more than 75 percent of respondent organizations considered eco-friendly computing an important element in their IT strategy, while 15 percent rated it as a top priority.
“Until now, CIOs have viewed green IT as corporate social responsibility initiatives they could do without,” said Vamshi Mokshagundam, author of the report and senior analyst at Datamonitor. “But as the business case gets stronger with cost savings and flexibility, the majority [of companies] realize the need to incorporate it into their core strategy.”
What’s Driving the Trend?
Tighter regulatory measures are a major factor feeding the renewed interest in green IT. Laws governing electronic waste in the U.S., which vary at both the state and county level, are moving toward promoting recycling and reuse, Mokshagundam said.
Advances in technology also are bringing eco-friendly computing to the forefront. “The competitive pressures in the ICT industry, especially in the semiconductor space, are spawning new design paradigms that allow vendors to offer end-user enterprises the best of performance and eco-friendliness,” Mokshagundam said.
Leading vendors in the microprocessor space are focusing their efforts on developing chips that improve on both clock speed and performance per watt. Other electronics firms are developing new light emitting diode (LED) array technologies to drive down the energy consumption of display units, while some are investing heavily in solid state drive (SSD) technologies to reduce energy requirements in data-storage functions, Mokshagundam said.
What incentives do companies have to make eco-friendly computing a priority?
“Apart from compliance, the two key drivers for adoption of a formal strategy for eco-friendly computing are potential cost saving and increased IT flexibility,” Mokshagundam said.
The adoption of green practices such as asset recycling, data-center consolidation and energy-efficient hardware generates significant cost savings for enterprises, especially when energy costs are set to remain high.
Also, virtualization and hosted solutions, apart from providing cost savings, offer IT departments a greater degree of flexibility in deploying and managing infrastructure and applications, Mokshagundam said.
Defining a Green Company
While there is no rigid set of rules or guidelines companies have to adhere to in order to be seen as green, various companies have computing practices such as virtualization, hosted applications and asset recycling — with or without an aim of being environmentally friendly.
“It is the companies [that] have committed to and adopted a formal strategy to reduce their carbon footprint and minimize negative effects on the environment that can be truly be called ‘green,’” Mokshagundam said.
While Datamonitor’s research largely is centered in Europe, Mokshagundam said there’s evidence of green IT trends across the Atlantic and in more developed regions in Asia Pacific. Companies with recently publicized enterprise initiatives in the green IT space include BT (U.K.), JetStar Airways (Australia) and HSBC.
The Future of Green IT
Datamonitor has identified two trends as the future of green IT: tighter enforcement for compliance from national or supranational governments and a stronger business case for many eco-friendly practices.
Emissions caps remain a likely event in the near future and companies can expect to take up accountability for life-cycle carbon emissions, Mokshagundam said. The regulations around hazardous and toxic materials in electronic equipment will get tighter, prompting vendors to rethink their design strategies and manufacturing processes.
As eco-friendly technologies such as virtualization and low-voltage processors mature, a move to these green computing practices will make increasingly strong business sense. Cost savings will continue to be significant, and accompanying business benefits such as flexibility, efficiency and scalability will multiply.