It’s become something of an winter tradition: As blizzards wreak havoc across the country, certain pundits say the growing snowdrifts are proof that “global warming doesn’t exist.” But some meteorologists say global warming may actually increase the amount of snow we get.
The problem with short-sighted opinion-making on either side of the debate is that it threatens to slow down the progress of Green IT, which strives to make computing more efficient at every level. If global warming doesn’t exist, the logic goes, we don’t need to worry about carbon emissions, and so we don’t need to worry about re-engineering our systems and energy consumption to reduce them. But that kind of thinking is lazy. It’s people looking for reasons not to futz with the status quo – even when a little futzing can go a long way toward improving the corporate bottom line.
Maybe it’s all in the marketing. Instead of calling it Green IT, we should be calling it money-saving IT. If you go to your boss and announce that you have a plan to help save the planet, you’ll probably be thrown out of his office. If, however, you go in with a plan to cut costs by 15 or 20 percent, you’ll be one sharply regarded colleague.
Spend just one hour at a site like GreenBiz.com and you’ll see that carbon emissions rarely come up. What’s being discussed are the money-saving possibilities of cloud computing, server virtualization, hosted infrastructure, data center design, and advanced cooling systems. While you’re at it, download GreenBiz.com’s just-published State of Green Business 2011 report. It’s a sort of bible of the Green IT crowd, with summaries of how companies are setting and reaching sustainability goals to save money.
Last week I was reading an annual report by Intel’s IT department to trumpet its successes over the past year. Among the team’s proudest achievements were a server virtualization consolidation ratio of 20 to 1, a data center retrofit leading to $600,000 in savings, the elimination of single-core servers leading to $47 million in savings, and storage optimization leading to $16 million in savings. The report also brags about a two percent reduction in carbon emissions, but that’s a footnote, not the headline.
It’d be nice to have some of those numbers in the “achievements” section of your resume. We need to get past the tired idea that somehow “efficiency” is a dirty word that connotes composting, electric cars, and unemployment and appreciate it for what it really is: doing things better and cheaper.
So go ahead and seek out a new generation of efficient network switches. Find out how to retrofit an aging skyscraper to reduce energy use by 38 percent. Learn how cloud computing implementations leads to more sustainable organizations. Get in front of these trends and become an efficiency thought leader among your technology peers. Don’t talk about saving polar bears. Talk about saving money. Believe me, people will listen.
— Don Willmott