Window on WANs

Jun 5 2009   4:54PM GMT

Color my (IT) world…green

Tim Scannell Profile: TScannell

The Great Recession apparently hasn’t put too much of a damper on corporate green IT initiatives. The reason? Most likely because these efforts can dramatically cut costs (by reducing the number of servers in an organization’s network, for example), and environmentally-sensitive efforts can generate positive PR in a rising tide of negative economic news.

While spending on green IT projects has slowed, along with everything else, these efforts are still top of mind when it comes to project priorities, says market researcher Gartner, Inc., noting that 2009 will most likely be a ‘gap year’ for initiatives. This is a term familiar to Europeans that refers to a period of time taken by a student before attending university to reflect on life, get involved in volunteer services, and oh yeah, have a bit of fun.

In the corporate sense, however, it means keeping a low profile to avoid short-term cost cutting and hopefully survive to budget another day.

Gartner is pretty optimistic about the future of green IT, pointing out that more than one-third of the 620 organizations it surveyed earlier this year (46% in Europe, 38% in Asia/Pacific and 36% in the US) expected to spend more than 15% of their IT capital budgets on green projects.

Gartner also asked organizations that had a specific capital expenditure budget for green IT (22% of respondents), what proportion of total IT capital expenditure this represented. Overall, more than one-third of respondents (46% in Europe, 38% in Asia/Pacific and 36% in the US) anticipated spending more than 15% of their IT capital budgets on green IT projects.

While the true proponents of the green movement are reluctant to admit it, most companies get the okay for projects from upper management based on the expected cost savings from an initiative that may result in a leaner and monetarily meaner IT and network structure. For telecom carriers, for example, this might mean evaluating a go no-go decision based on a 12-24 month return on investment (ROI) formula.

Says BlueCoat Systems senior VP of operations David Cox, “It’s all carbon reduction, land fill avoidance and other issues. But, also about risk mitigation, brand recognition and ROI.” In short, one executive’s green passion is another’s pursuit of the greenbacks, or at least saving them to improve the bottom line.

Coverage of the green movement will continue on, especially as it applies to cutting network and telecom costs, as well as being politically and ethically correct. Meanwhile, let us know your thoughts on the greening of IT and its impact on network operations, planning and quality of services in your organization.

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