Most organisations are committed to doing business in an environmentally-friendly and sustainable way, but when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, they focus on their manufacturing or logistical departments.
Very few CIOs actually measure the carbon footprint of the IT department, because frankly – they don’t have to. Yet. We tend to think of e-waste as being hardware-related: old monitors, PCs, etc. But the reality is that our IT operations are not being run in an energy efficient (or operationally efficient) manner. I recently examined an organisation that has been prominently boasting about its commitment to “going green” in its advertising messaging. The reality was that its staff members were leaving their PCs turned on 24/7… at the request of the IT department!
These 28 000 PCs are causing 7 500 metric tons of CO2 emissions being released unnecessarily, and incurring a R4 million electricity bill, when a simple software tool can enable wake-up LAN technology that reduces energy without interfering with their nocturnal security patching. But, IT waste goes even further than that. Gartner has revealed that 12%-14% of the world’s servers actually have no use whatsoever. Why aren’t companies taking steps to identify and remove them? Similarly, very few companies are optimising the servers they do need. “Drowsy” servers that use less energy to conduct housekeeping functions can cut data centre energy use by 12% with no impact on performance.
Unused software is another issue close to my heart. Most companies will admit they have either unused software that has been installed on their PCs but not needed, or ‘shelfware’ – software that is purchased, but never deployed. The maintenance costs for this software can run between 15%-20% of the licence fee. The business implications of this are enormous, as there are sunk costs in software that are not yielding any business value.
IT departments need to contribute to the creation of a sustainable but profitable economy by taking advantage of the tools that are already available in our industry. As additional Eskom price hikes and environment legislation is looming, we need to start educating ourselves today in preparation for tomorrow.
Source iWeek, 1 August 2012