Monthly Archives: June 2011

What Are the Top 10 Green IT Strategies?

I could be here all day discussing vendors, but I won’t go down that rabbit hole, I’ll just say brush up on your VMware skills and all the extra moving parts that go with it.  For every dollar of VMware sold their is $15 dollars worth of auxiliary needs and wants.  I personally favor VMware because it rocks!

Top Ten Green IT Solutions:

  1. Virtualization
  2. Data Center Optimization
  3. Power Management
  4. Data De-Duplication
  5. Electronic Waste Management
  6. Cloud Computing
  7. Carbon Accounting & Management
  8. Teleconference
  9. Telecommute/Telework
  10. Paperless Solutions, Document Management

Bonus Green IT Solutions:

11. Green Printing

12. Software Cholesterol

Green IT is a marketing fad: yes and no!
Back in 2009, when I started the Green IT Practice for EcomNets, I was optimistic that every company would adopt the top 10 strategies for Green IT immediately.  After gaining no visible business, I realized that I was the consummate early-adopter.  Back then, nobody knew there was a chasm to cross, in fact I had to explain to IT professionals that Green IT is more than being on the Internet. It is, in fact, energy efficient computing from the desktop to the data center, from hardware to software, and from manufacturing to waste management.

Many organizations have recently developed Green IT or Sustainability in IT just to have that practice available just for money’s sake.  Only a few have started their practice as a go to strategy because they believe in it.  Beware of all the also-ran’s.  The problem with this idea of adding another product line, is that you may miss the essence of the movement without education.  Does your values line up with the Green Movement, or do you comply to recent legislation?  I say be the early adopter, and help create the standards.  We take a Sarbanes-Oxley approach to how we assess IT environments for sustainability.

Leadership is needed in Sustainability!
Back then we thought that talking to newly appointed Directors of Sustainability was all we had to do.  For the data center we wanted to talk to the CIO and Facilities Operations, only to find out they don’t play well with each other.  We soon learned that upper management had to lead Sustainability efforts.  They had to mandate that facilities, IT departments, and Sustainability Managers work together.  At a typical data center mechanical engineers parked their trucks in the back, and IT engineers parked their sports cars in front.  If they had a Sustainability Director, they had no line of power.

Fortunately, federal government, mainly President Obama created newExecutive Order #13415, to drive the government to be greener.  Then in corporate America, we have Wal-Mart leading the way with their Wal-Mart Sustainability Index.  The tide is changing.


Green IT Is Profitable!
For some reason, business assumed that Green IT was just as expensive as Green Building, which is far from the truth. Several Green IT strategies often cut energy usage by 50% or more with an ROI within 3 to 6 months.  With these provocative results, I again thought companies would jump all over these strategies.  Somehow we have to attach budgets, and performance evaluations to this issue.

Unfortunately, we have been conditioned to buy bigger, stronger, faster computers.  We have no such need because we can’t physically keep up with the speed of today’s computers.  If you don’t believe me, stop using the apps on your iPhone. I just watched“Battlefield:Los Angeles” on my iPhone.  Saturday, I listened to the police scanners on the way home from the pub from my iPhone. I have 14GB on my iPhone, which I will never ever completely use. Less is more. In theory, the savings should allow an IT group to invest in other strategic initiatives.

Imagine being able to cut energy usage up to 50% or more with several different strategies.  Imagine consolidating data center servers by up to 66%, and using the spare servers for disaster recovery.  Not only do I reduce energy usage, and space concerns, I have saved a considerable amount of money.  In addition, I can control the air flow in my data center for hot and cold aisle.  I can use venting techniques.  If I can get the CIO to understand how electricity is connected to their data center budget, then maybe I wouldn’t have to preach the virtues of Green IT so much.

For the IT professional that snubs their nose at PC Power Management, and Green Printing, you must NOT ignore these very simple, cost-effective strategies. Power Management at the desktop alone can save up to 40% on energy usage.  Green Printing can save up to 70% on toner usage without degrading the quality of the print job.  These solutions are anywhere from $25 to $75 a desktop, and run as simple agents on your systems with robust management capabilities.  Easy to install, and doesn’t hinder other IT operations.

These strategies are the low hanging fruit.  If you don’t have the budget or manpower to consolidate your data center, start small. It’s a marathon, not a race.  You still get positive results and a ROI within 3 to 6 months, sometimes immediately.


Will Vivek Kundra’s departure have a negative effect on Green IT in government?

I wonder how much Vivek Kundra’s departure will slow down the government’s innovation, which is already too slow!  I may be able to understand Vivek’s frustration with the Federal Government.  He is responsible for  His plans to consolidate over 800 federal data centers, the Federal Cloud Strategy, and his legacy of the “25 Point Plan” are stuff of legend.  I mean how long does it take to steer the course of an aircraft carrier? The federal government is a huge ship that moves very slow. Vivek’s a pretty young guy, so he may not know that it takes a while to move large federal agencies within the beltway, or maybe he does and he’s too impatient to see it through.  Nevertheless, he did a great job as the nation’s first CIO.  Saving a 3 billion dollars with the IT Dashboard, while serving the President of the United States is no shabby undertaking.  My fear is that the government will return to the status quo.  This position requires extreme technical intelligence, business practicality, and fiscal activism.  My hope is that Richard Spires, CIO of the Department of Homeland Security ensures that the next CIO sticks with the plan.  The last thing we need is the beltway shuffle with these innovative initiatives.

To get an idea how far we’ve come in two years, let me tell you.  Two years ago I had the pleasure of attending the USGBC Federal Summit back in 2009.  I think I was the only IT representative there at the time.  We had most agencies represented from the federal government.  I was interested in the sessions on high performance buildings and data centers, recovery money, and green procurement.  This was right before the President’s E.O. 13415 was created.  Everyone was throwing around environmental goals for each agency.  Someone said the goal was to reduce the carbon footprint by up to 20% within 10 years.  I was flabbergasted, so as vocal as I am, I stood up and asked an implied question. “How come the government is spending millions of dollars to become energy efficient by 20% over ten years when they can become energy efficient by 40% within one year just by turning the agency computers off evenings and weekends?  I mean power management software costs between $20 and $30 per desktop, and the maintenance on my iPhone costs more, and I pay that every month.”  You could’ve heard a pen drop.  After that several representatives from different agencies came up to me after the session.

Now what do you think transpired after that meeting?  Not much. I had a few meetings, which did not lead to any major opportunities.  Until this day, I only know of a couple agency-wide utilization of power management software. Since that time, maybe 20 to 30 PC & Server Power Management companies have come on the scene.  Another example is that I let the Greenest Congressman evaluate our Verdio Green PC, which  only uses 27watts of power.  The IT Manager assigned to this Congressman’s office was your typical IT guy.  Whatever powerful systems he could get within budget, he would get with no thought to cost or energy consumption.  So upon return at the end of the POC, I asked him what did he think about the Verdio. His response caught me off guard, “It works pretty good, but it isn’t powerful enough.”  I said, “but your staffers are running Microsoft Office, how much power do you need?” His response, “A couple guys use digital video, so all our systems are 4 core standardized.”  I was stunned!  Just two guys run video, and the whole office is standardized on 4 core desktop PCs.  This is the Greenest Congressman on Capitol Hill?  I think we need to run Moore’s Law in reverse because less is more.  I have 14GB on my iPhone 3G that I will never fully use.  I know I need the 4G, but I won’t get it until the 3G dies, then I’ll recycle it.  Today’s computers are too much, we could never think fast enough, or type fast enough to realize the computing power and capacity.  Energy efficient PCs from EnergyStar to EPEAT Gold were just beginning to become new standards, and today they are the standard.

Another agency in region 4, has a $1.4 million dollar toner budget. I showed them presentations, videos, and white papers on Green Printing Technologies.  I basically told them I could cut their toner budget in half saving them $700 million dollars annually.  I got nothing!  I did however get a promise that maybe a couple of agencies will pilot the technology. I’m still waiting.

On a good note, virtualization has gone from early adopter stage to mainstream, moving to the cloud.  I mean, just like 4 core desktop PCs, servers are extreme pieces of machinery, and if we don’t virtualize them, it’s like driving a Porsche 10 miles an hour.  Who does that?  The server huggers are still present throughout federal government, but the learning curve is getting shorter these days.  The ability of Vivek Kundra to see the big picture of moving workloads to the Cloud, is either genius or naive.  Genius because it makes total economic sense, naive because you think big government silos go away fast.  Either way, he was certainly disruptive in a very positive way.  I hope his idea of more transparency within IT budgets never goes away.  In the 90’s I sold software to federal agencies that never seen the light of day, but was purchased to meet the deadline for the federal buying season.  Someone needs to address the archaic procurement process, or better yet, implement the change management that must occur before agencies start making purchases on behalf of the people.  You know, the ones that pay taxes for all this computer stuff.

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Welcome to the Green IT Guy’s blog where we talk about energy efficient computing from the desktop to the data center, from hardware to software, from the network to the cloud.