Friday, 22 February 2008

The greening of IT

Current trends suggest that the need for enterprises to develop much more explicit ‘green’ environmental strategies will expand dramatically, and perhaps emerge as a critical business requirement. As companies seek to verify the reduction of their carbon footprints, IT has an important role to play. Reducing power and cooling requirements, shrinking physical office space, supporting telecommuting, replacing travel with video conferencing and properly disposing IT products are just some of the steps that will be required. This report will develop a model for quantifying and evaluating the impact of various green alternatives.

CIO interest
The global survey titled IT and the environment: a new item on the CIO's agenda? was carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to assess organisations’ efforts to measure and reduce the environmental impact of IT. It identified that more than one third of IT executives say their firm does not monitor its IT-related energy spending, according to new research. Although there is high visibility of environmental issues, few businesses have anything approaching a cohesive strategy for dealing with it from an IT perspective, says the EIU report. The report suggests that this is, in part, due to the lack of visibility about the issue: 64 per cent of respondents agree that an industry standard on energy efficiency for IT equipment would cause them to change their procurement policies.

Government Interest
Speaking at the European Ministerial eGovernment Conference in Lisbon on Thursday, Cabinet Office minister Gillian Merron called on the UK Chief Information Officers Council to reduce the carbon footprint of government computers and improve the sustainability of public-sector IT.
"Figures from industry suggest that, worldwide, information technology is responsible for about one billion tonnes of CO2 emissions each year — that's between two and four percent of global energy," Merron said.
"The government is by far the biggest user of IT in the UK, spending around £12bn a year. We have a responsibility to set a positive example on the environment, so I am asking our IT leaders to work with industry to find new ways to improve the sustainability of government computer systems," said Merron.
Merron added: "This doesn't just mean reducing the amount of electricity they use, but also looking at how they can be designed and built in ways that consume fewer materials and which make recycling easier."
European Union governments will be expected to purchase office equipment such as PCs that conform to international energy-efficiency ratings, after a new ruling was passed this week. The European Council (EC) has adopted a regulation that member states must comply with ratings that are at least as demanding as the US Energy Star product labelling scheme that Europe also adopted in 2001.

Government driven initiatives
The UK should focus on six key technologies over the next five years, according to an independent government advisory group. The Council for Science and Technology (CST) has named six technologies that should be in line for additional government funding. The six technologies are: carbon capture and storage; disaster mitigation technology; low carbon electricity distribution; medical devices; e-health; and plastic electronics.
Carbon capture and storage is aimed at allowing the continued use of fossil fuels for power generation without creating additional C02 emissions. Related to this is the development of low-carbon electricity distribution networks to provide locally generated electricity using renewable and low-carbon technology.
Experts highlight six key technologies to watch

Business adoption
HSBC plans to add thousands of virtual servers to its datacentre by the end of 2008. This is a move that will save 500kW of power - equivalent to the consumption of 500 electric fires. The move is part of the bank's programme to reduce CO2 emissions, which has been set as a global, regional and local target.
HSBC has also introduced a policy to reduce unnecessary printing. Most printers in head offices will only print after the employee has passed a security pass over a reader. Other power saving initiatives include educating staff about what they can do , such as turning off PCs and monnitors. One of the most successful campaigns involved telling their staff that mobile phone chargers use almost as much power if it is recharging or not, when connected to a power socket.
HSBC set for green saving with virtual server roll out.

Data Centres
IT costs are rising out of control, driving us toward a financial crisis, at the same time the carbon footprint and energy efficiency of Data Centres is becoming a significant financial, regulatory and social responsibility issue.
The Data Centre, whilst being the single most valuable and expensive asset is frequently the last to be considered in IT strategy. The presentation at our event on the 19th September will demonstrate why M&E should have at least as much input to IT strategy as the IT and Architecture teams.
Rising demand for IT services is driving demand for data centre capacity, in response to this many companies have replaced old servers with physically smaller servers or blades, only to discover that their capacity limits are power and cooling, not physical space. These internal issues are compounded by the lack of availability of additional power in many locations.
The falling prices of server hardware have created an illusion of falling operational costs which is belied by the rising power demand and power density. The cost of a server is now matched by its lifetime power cost, the cost of the Data Centre infrastructure required to power and cool the server substantially exceeds both put together. The only way for a business to effectively plan an IT strategy and choose appropriate IT hardware is to understand the overall cost of housing, powering and cooling that equipment.
There is no shortage of solutions being offered to IT and Data Centre operators, from virtualisation to rack-side cooling but little assistance in understanding what real environmental and cost benefits these might provide you in your Data Centre, delivering your IT loads.
The Data Centre Specialist Group has developed a model to analyse and forecast the integrated IT and M&E energy and financial costs of purchasing, maintaining, powering and cooling different types of server. This model demonstrates that choosing servers based on price or price/performance is the wrong strategy. The performance per Watt and rated power of the server are the key metrics for lifecycle cost and should, therefore be used to select equipment. The model is also able to effectively forecast the carbon and cost benefits of migrating to a virtualised or grid environment, allowing effective analysis of when and if you will see the ROI.
Using the model we have been able to test the energy and financial impacts of changes in both IT and M&E strategy and processes. There are a number of immediately effective changes for which we can demonstrate the cost benefits as well as forecasting the medium term impacts of equipment, software, process, taxation and regulatory changes.
One significant output of the model is that the new breed of energy efficient servers will create a new set of M&E issues in the Data Centre due to high load variability. These issues will require a higher level of communication between IT and M&E staff both provisioning and operating the facility.
One of the most significant challenges facing Data Centre operators is communicating the impacts of IT and M&E strategy at board level. The model allows the IT and M&E issues to be communicated effectively in the business terms of capital and lifecycle costs, to allow business decisions makers to make effective decisions based on a real understanding of the choices presented.

The Green Grid
Companies are being to collaborate on their efforts to develop a suitable " Green strategy". This has led, in the USA, to the formation of the Green Grid.
The Green Grid is a consortium of information technology companies and professionals seeking to lower the overall consumption of power in data centers around the globe. The organization is chartered to develop meaningful, platform-neutral standards, measurement methods, processes and new technologies to improve energy efficient performance of global data centers.
Membership to The Green Grid is open to those companies and information technology professionals with an interest in helping to support the movement to improve data center power consumption, and improve overall efficiency.

Server virtualisation
Virtualisation could save companies millions of pounds and be the dominant data centretechnology within the next two to three years. It can reduce the energy consumption and cut operating costs for companies adopting the technology, according to Butler Group's Infrastructure Virtualisation report.
The report estimates a company currently operating 250 dual-core servers can save £2m over the next three years by adopting virtualisation technology. It also estimates a power saving of the order of £78,000 for every 1,000 PCs per year can be made by businesses moving from a full desktop PC infrastructure to a server-hosted desktop virtualisation set-up. And a further £4,000 per 1,000 helpdesk calls per month could also be saved by reducing the number of helpdesk calls and encouraging the use of self service application virtualisation technologies, the research reveals.
Get the most from virtual servers
Europe beating US in virtualisation uptake
Management Summary of Butler Group's review of virtualisation technologies and business opportunities

Outsourcing of IT
Technology outsourcing is set to rise if the business is landed with the financial burden of compliance with environmental regulations. Shifting the responsibility for energy costs to the IT department can already consume the entire annual IT budget, according to a report from analyst IDC published this week. And although efficiency regulations are not currently scheduled, it is only a matter of time, said report author James Eibisch. “Discussions are going on within the European Union and non-governmental organisations to extend environmental regulation to IT,” said Eibisch. “Business technology consumes so much energy it is highly probable there will be regulation that targets it in the next few years.”
Green aims drive outsourcing
IT departments told - must get greener

Home working
New research has indicated an increasing trend in homeworking. A poll of more than 1,000 working adults commissioned by financial services firm Zurich found that nearly one-third (30%) of respondents had spent time during the previous month working from home.
Pollster YouGov found that "ad-hoc homeworkers" clocked up an average of nearly 16 hours working from home each month. Avoiding commuting to and from work was cited as the most popular reason for staying away from the office, according to two-thirds of respondents. As transport exhaust fumes are one of the main contributors to the growth of CO2, encouraging home working is one approach that businesses can take to reduce their carbon footprint.

Arguments for and against
In an article on his website, Conservative MP Boris Johnson claims that working from home is nothing more than "a euphemism for sloth, apathy, staring out of the window and random surfing of the internet. Many managers have the same attitude - that homeworking is skiving. In fact, the opposite is usually true, with over-work more of a problem. The evidence shows those that homeworkers are actually more productive than office-based staff. Many people find they can work better at home away from the very distractions and office politics.
Vanessa Robinson, a research manager at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said that while flexible working is largely a positive thing, many employers aren't geared up to manage homeworking properly. In the extreme, homeworking can be quite lonely and people can feel isolated. Each case needs to be thought out properly to make sure it suits the employer, customer and individual needs. Not all organisations have performance management systems that are robust enough to measure homeworkers' productivity and wellbeing. It needs to be very carefully managed so that working from home isn't seen as a day off by individuals or their colleagues.
Home working isn't a case of all or nothing. Working life tends to be more of a hybrid now, with people working from home some of the time, going to meetings and having some time in the office as well. Most people actually want to work in an office and fulfil the basic psychological and social need for daily human contact, conflict, motivation and friendship. Office environments facilitates social networking. Alcatel-Lucent's president of enterprise solutions suggests that while mobile technology is necessary to keep in touch on the road or out of the office, it won't take the place of meeting up in person. "Nothing is more beneficial as when employees get together and share ideas," he said. "There's still nothing more beneficial than when a team gets together face to face."
Listen to the podcast why and how Green IT is important to businesses

Opportunities for call centres
The trend for call centre workers to be based from home is set to increase rapidly over the next five years as businesses look to cut customer service costs. Analyst Datamonitor claims the use of outsourced home agents is now becoming a mainstream option for businesses. There are currently around 47,000 home-based outsourced call centre workers working 20 hours per week or more globally - predominantly in the US - and Datamonitor predicts this will rise to almost 224,000 by 2012. The different demographic profile of home-based agents is one of the reasons companies are going down this route. They tend to be older and have more work experience than typical call centre workers, have higher customer satisfaction levels and lower attrition rates, according to vendors of home-based agent services.
In the UK the AA is a big user of home-working call centre agents, although it employs these workers itself rather than using a third-party.
A call centre in your bedroom?

Energy Management will become the norm
We all know what we pay at home but there is very little responsibility coming out of the IT department when it comes to business and the reason for this is that they don't pay for the energy." Sun commercial director, UK and Ireland, Sue Wilkinson conducted a quick straw poll of the audience at the Carbon Footprint IT Summit , which revealed that only around a fifth of the IT professionals present knew what their company's energy usage was. A similar poll indicated everyone present knew what their home energy costs were.
One of the outputs from the Leading Edge Forum Green IT study tour revealed that IT Managers will need to start making strong relationships with the Facility Manager. Facilities have a number of technologies to monitor and manage the building environment. However, these are not currently leveraged to minimise the power consumption for the building. Yet, building power management is one key area and quick win to reduce the businesses carbon footprint.

How can you help reduce the organisations carbon footprint
Forrester Research has identified that the main contributor to the carbon footprint within businesses is the desktop environment. Forrester predict that 80% of an organisations energy consumption occurs within the desk environment. Therefore, with committed publicity campaigns to encourage "green" practices, employees can provide a dramatic impact to the carbon emission levels. The following are guidelines to adopt:

  • Reduce unnecessary printing.
  • Turn off PCs and monnitors when you leave the office.
  • Turn off the lights when you leave the office.
  • Disconnect mobile phone and PDA chargers from power socket when the devices are not being recharged.

Document management and imaging company, Version One, has been a 'green' company since the launch of its Carbon Neutral Initiative in October 2006. As well as reducing the company's negative impact on the environment, this initiative has also improved staff morale, enhanced partner relations and helped win new business.
Based upon Version One's own experiences, the following top ten tips have been compiled to help businesses reduce their own CO2 emissions. These measures can be implemented by all types of company and needn't 'cost the earth'.
Give your company a CO2 health check - It's important to determine approximately how much CO2 your company emits and in which areas of the business CO2 emissions are the highest. Some businesses bring in a third party to assess this, however, this isn't essential. Commonsense combined with a decent business-specific carbon calculator are usually sufficient for CO2 health checks in office-based organisations.
Appoint a green executive - if this isn't already in place, a member of staff needs to be given overall responsibility for the company's environmental policy. Smaller organisations may decide to provide an existing member of staff with this responsibility, in which case they need to have the time and the desire to take on the role.

  • Involve staff - the buy-in of all staff needs to be obtained from the outset if measures to reduce carbon emissions are to be successful. Advise all staff of the company's 'green' plans and request help and suggestions. Ensure staff continue to be involved with the company's environmental direction by establishing a 'green committee' and/or a 'green ideas box' which allows staff to put forward their own suggestions for reducing emissions.
  • Recycle and re-use - whenever possible, ensure office waste is recycled or re-used, including paper, IT equipment, office furniture, textiles etc.
  • Cut-down on paper use - as well as recycling paper, you should implement measures and technologies to cut-down on paper use. Encourage staff to refrain from printing-out emails and invest in document management technology. This technology dramatically cuts-down on paper use as well as the printing and photocopying of paper. With a typical return-on-investment of just six months, document management also makes smart business sense.
    Enforce good housekeeping - ensure staff turn off all electrical equipment when they leave the office, including PCs, phone chargers, photocopiers and lights.
  • Reduce out-of-office meetings - where possible, cut-down on car travel by encouraging phone, video and web conferences as opposed to out-of-office meetings.
  • Promote public transport and car sharing - when staff do have to travel, encourage the use of public transport. A car-sharing pool also reduces the number of car journeys to and from the office.
  • Look into offsetting schemes - as well as reducing CO2 emissions, look into carbon offsetting schemes, which often have a range of economic and social as well as ecological benefits. Tree planting, investing in 'green energy' projects such as wind farms and providing funds for low carbon technologies in the developing world, are some of the offsetting projects available.

Evaluate progress - after 12 months, it's important to evaluate what impact the various measures have had. Have carbon emissions been reduced? Have staff bought into the new measures? Have the measures cut costs? Once the results have been evaluated, plan the company's environmental policy for the next 12 months, setting-out organisation-wide targets.

NCC members viewpoint

  • Green IT – how NCC members are delivering “Green IT”
  • Adopt ISO 14001 the international Standard for Environmental Management
    Sever virtualisation
  • Add footer notes to emails to discourage responsible printing
  • Nominate an Energy Guardian responsible for implementing and overseeing energy saving
  • Procure greener printers and photocopiers, ideally multi-function devices
  • Reduce number of printers, set defaults to duplex, use environmentally friendly consumables, re-cycle waste
  • Implement auto power to stop wastage through standby
  • Raise profile of sustainable life-styles (promoting individual responsibility for energy consumption).
  • Ensure that you are WEEE compliant
  • Use thin client technologies
  • Provide good support for remote and home workers
  • Video conferencing
  • Enable more web service to cut down on physical process costs
  • Recycle mobile phones
  • Purchase electricity generated from renewable sources.
  • Develop supplier code of conduct/compliance
  • Report back to the rest of the organisation on the ICT departments contribution to overall environmental aims

Which Companies are taking the issue seriously
Google Brings New Meaning to the Word Grid
Google is supposed to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into producing cheap electricity from renewable energy sources such as the wind and sun. The object is to lower the cost of solar power by 25%-50%, servicing its hundreds of thousand of servers first and selling the rest outside.
It expects to build power plants, make lots of money and make us less dependent on fossil fuel., its philanthropic arm, will invest in companies that specialize in renewable energy. Google will also underwrite an internal R&D group.

Meanwhile, HP has signed up with two renewable energy providers, SunPower Corporation in the US and Airtricity in Ireland, to reduce its carbon footprint. It’s going to install its first large-scale solar power installation at its San Diego facility and ensure that 90% of its energy in Ireland comes from wind farms.

Barclay's Bank
Barclay's are investing in renewable source & carbon reduced driven venture capitalist companies

SUn built their new Silicon Valley HQ with the view to reduce energy comsumption. Read the Leading Edge Forum report to find out more.
Leading Edge Forum's Green IT study tour overview

Microsoft’s Answer to Global Warming The Russian press quoting Microsoft Russia CEO Birger Sten says that Microsoft is talking about building a data center for 10,000 servers in Siberia. Inevitably it was remarked that that way Microsoft would have someplace to send the people who wrote Vista. Oh, yeah, and Microsoft is hiring another 1,000 engineers in India.

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