Custom Application Development

Jun 30 2008   6:47PM GMT

On the way to Green IT

SJC SJC Profile: SJC

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.

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  • Gilly400
    Hi, I remember talk of the paperless office back in 1986 when I started in IT. This was when modems and data communication were relatively slow, but it was still seen to be the future. Now we have much faster communications, with speeds we could only have dreamt about back then and yet from my experience, it seems that we use more paper now than ever, fuelled by the ever increasing sizes of data that we can store on our systems and by the same faster and cheaper communications. There also seems to be some legislation necessary to make the paperless office a possibility (at least here in the Netherlands). At my last job, we implemented order confirmation and invoicing via e-mail, only to find that electronic documents weren't legally binding, so we still had to get the documents faxed or mailed - apparently fax is acceptable, because it creates a hard-copy at the receiving end (I guess no-one had ever heard of things like fax servers when the legislation was made). There are some things which I still prefer to have paper copies of (bank statements for instance), but in the corporate world I feel there should be much more use of edi instead of printing and posting. Just my two cents worth. Best regards, Martin Gilbert.
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