Green IT — you’ve read and heard a lot about it recently. Green (whatever) is the color of the day, week – indeed future.
However, I can’t help but think about all the trees we were going to save by having our computers do all the work for us, and then present results without paper! Remember the paperless office? Talk about the paperless society? …and wouldn’t paperless be a good green initiative? The paperless office sounded like a good idea at the time, but I venture to say that for most companies efforts to be paperless have gone stagnant – and why is that?
Could it be that perhaps it just doesn’t work? Could it be that people still want to read or skim over printed pages rather than fuss with a mouse, or read something on a screen limited in its display, and positioned (normally) very differently than say when one reads a book or newspaper? Have you ever seen someone curled up comfortably in their easy chair reading a computer? I for one have not!
While I believe we have made great strides in some areas toward minimizing paper use with programs such as on-line libraries of scanned business documents, B2B invoicing, data warehousing and “Business Intelligence – given the increase in data now available because of our faster, more powerful computers I submit that perhaps at best we’re holding our own. The additional computing power and data analysis has meant mroe computers, which of course means more energy — so we now add in virtualization of said servers – and the cycle starts again. First we had a prolific growth in physical servers, now it’s virtualized servers – and software wanting to run on its own server spurs more growth.
Of course there’s also the other green – the long green (aka US $). We want to do all this “greening” without spending the long green. Most “green” initiatives don’t save money in the short term, and in the economy of today investment in the long term is limited due to short funds.
Finally there’s the last “green” I’ll refer to — that of the “green” with envy kind of green, also known in a previous era as “keeping up with the Jones’s”. The Jones’s have something that you perceive as good – so you want it! So what if it uses up more resources. While there is a lot at stake for us as a global society by “going green”, I’m seeing much talk, but little action. Shifting from one resource drain (such as power consumption) to another (such as serving up twice as much paper in printed documents) hardly seems green to me.