4. Go Green – Talk of Green IT usually turns back to something covered in my first story about cutting IT costs: virtualization. “If you still have each server tied to an individual application, you’re probably seeing, to be charitable, a 20% utilization rate,” said KPMG’s Snyder.
According to Snyder, server consolidation through virtualization is a good first step on the path to Green IT, although you should also start working with outside entities, such as utilities (more on that later). Breen at the Yankee Group cautioned that you need to have a sense of purpose before starting a Green IT initiative. “What does Green IT mean for your organization?” he asked. “Is Green IT just a bunch of signs and a feel-good story for your employees? If so, don’t invest. If you can actually save on electricity, cooling, floor space, etc., then do it. However, you need to demonstrate ROI.”
According to a report by IDC commissioned by Redemtech, a provider of corporate computer recycling and reuse services, Green IT efforts should go well beyond simple power reductions. Companies should study the entire equipment lifecycle, from how a piece of hardware was produced on through to its environmental impact when disposed. The study, Beyond Power: IT’s Roadmap to Sustainable Computing, advises organizations to first develop best practices for sustainability, rather than approaching sustainability in a piecemeal fashion, which is common today.
Other advice includes extending the equipment replacement cycle, often by redeploying equipment to other departments that could still benefit from it; choosing equipment designed to be recyclable; refurbishing equipment in the middle of its lifecycle to help extend its life; and seeking alternatives to disposal, such as donating used equipment to charities.
5. Found Money – A benefit of that final piece of Green IT advice, donation, has the added benefit of providing a tax write-off. I asked Snyder of KPMG what he has seen to be the most common mistake companies make when cutting IT costs. “Leaving money on the table,” he said.
“Are their tax write-offs, tax incentives or even utility-sponsored incentives that you qualify for?” For instance, PG&E in California will subsidize virtualization efforts subsidize virtualization efforts.
Many utilities give incentives when organizations agree to cut back on power usage during peak usage times. This can be as simple as turning out every other row of lights. Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiencyto see what’s available in your area.
Gold Key’s Prestipino mentioned that his company is exploring these sorts of incentives, while also pursuing other state-sponsored ones. In Virginia, companies can get incentives for allowing workers to spend part of the week working from home.
Jeff Vance is the president of Sandstorm Media, a writing and marketing services firm focused on emerging technologies. If you have ideas for future stories, contact him at [email protected] or visit www.sandstormmedia.net.