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ITWeb 30 November 2009

As eyes caste forward towards the COP15 Conference, in Copenhagen, on 7 December, more and more questions are being asked about how we transform into a low carbon economy.

Although it is as yet unclear whether any binding climate deal will be struck, the stark truth is that much of the climate science predicts that sub-Saharan Africa is going to be one of the geographies most affected by climate change. Forecasts include significant average increases in temperature, reductions in average rainfall and dramatic climate events when they happen. If any business community should be taking immediate action, it is South Africa’s.

Despite much press around green IT and the benefits of sustainable computing, South African business is not embracing what many see (including Gartner) as the next wave of IT, says Tim James, founding director of niche player, sustainableIT.

The reality is that scant regard is being paid to these benefits. “South African corporates are missing the bandwagon, that their counterparts in the EU and US have been riding for years now,” says James. “Virtualisation has taken off in a big way, although in many cases this has been done for reasons other than ‘green’, namely reducing management complexity, increasing security and improving provisioning and disaster recovery services. Business process adaptation, power management, print management and dematerialisation solutions are not taking hold in the way they have done elsewhere,” he explains.

His view is backed up by Shaun Diamond, director of EcoToo, another consultancy specialising in the area of eco friendly business and IT solutions. “Going green is a journey,” explains Diamond. “Many South African companies do not realise that green IT is not necessarily difficult or expensive, but South African companies have been reluctant to embrace this change in any meaningful way up until now,” explains Diamond.

It is expected that 2010 will usher in winds of change and the potential for South African companies to start embracing a low carbon future. The Copenhagen conference, whether a deal is struck or not, coupled with rising energy rates and impending legislation, should provide the stimulus for change that many expect. “We stand on the cusp of a paradigm shift in the way that we deliver services as IT professionals. Cloud computing, energy and carbon reduction and measurement as well as dematerialisation are the business of the future. Those that embrace this sooner rather than later will be the leaders of tomorrow,” James concludes.

We wait to see what Copenhagen produces, as well as the impact that Eskom increases will have on business truly adopting a low carbon future.

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