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Green IT: Getting Buy-In

By Elizabeth Millard Print this article Print

With the numerous advantages to infrastructure that can come as a result of greening up a data center's operations, why isn't every company a pleasant shade of Kermit by now? Much like trying to pinpoint what "efficiency" represents in a data center, building meaning around "green IT" is increasingly tough in the face of vendor releases that tout green features and green advantages.

Green IT: Getting Buy-In

An EPA report in 2007 examined some of the challenges of greener operations, and many of those issues still remain. The report noted that at many companies, there's a "split incentive" which can act as a barrier.

In many enterprises, the report stated, those responsible for purchasing and operating the IT equipment aren't the same individuals responsible for power and cooling controls, and there may be the third category of individual: the one who pays the utility bill.

"The CIO might not be aware that utility bills have been increasing dramatically," says Sams. "Or, that person might not be motivated to spend the money to fix the problem. So, responsibility and accountability for green initiatives might not be well aligned."

Another major issue, he notes, is the perception that green efforts have a very long payback period, similar to renewable energy efforts. For example, installing solar panels will result in energy savings, but because of panel costs, a company might not see those savings for seven to 15 years, says Sams.

But in data centers, that math doesn't apply, he adds: "We've seen clients that have spent $15,000 all at once to go green, and get that money back in lowered energy consumption costs the next month. The savings can be huge, compared to the potential costs."

There's no lack of opportunity to employ green equipment, applications, controls, and strategies, thanks to the amount of new products hitting the market. Also, industry-run groups like The Green Grid are constantly developing best practices and developing standards.

But taking advantage of the lush, green hue of new strategies comes down to a company level, and often depends on how well a CIO, CFO, and CEO can align their missions, Sams believes.

"There needs to be more conversation within organizations about what needs to be changed, and that will usually come from the CIO," he says. "The CIO has the opportunity to be a hero in implementing these strategies."

This article was originally published on 2008-11-25
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