Having just come back from a week of discussing ‘green IT’ with folks in Silicon Valley, I have to admit to being a little worried and frustrated. Two things bother me.
Firstly, whilst there seems to be a fair level of activity and some well intentioned chest beating and lobbying, there is a distinct lack of agreed process and structure to many initiatives – which is surprising from IT folks. If there is one thing we’re supposedly good at, it’s all the ‘metrics, process and standards’ stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not diminishing the commitment or intent, but from what I saw, there seems to be only aspiration targets being set and no common method for measuring or comparing progress.
As you would expect, the most successful initiatives have a positive business case but most of these reached their tipping point as a result of the available subsidies and not from an underlying commercial commitment.
Secondly, and perhaps more worrying, is the spin around the IT industry about being “seen to be green”, which extends to the shameless re-branding of existing solutions as “Green technologies”. The most blatant is the current spin around virtualization. This is great technology, be it VMware, Solaris Containers, SWsofts cross platform solution or whatever flavour you like, but its hardly new and was only recently classed as ‘green’. If I recall correctly, it was originally about improving utilisation and speed to market.
Now as an industry, IT is an easy target – hell we still have Y2K and he dot com bomb to live down so the last thing we need is being seen to be jumping on a green bandwagon. So let’s be sensible here. The technology community has a huge responsibility here to both reduce our current consumption (by our, I mean our organisation – IT footprint might go up to deliver overall corporate savings) and drive innovation to find new power sources and processing options/methods. Let’s make sure however as technology and business leaders we measure effectively and realistically, take justifiable credit for the right things, avoid the seductive voices of a ‘re-branding quick fix’ and accept the challenges of this inconvenient truth.