Bringing green IT to the masses

Earth Day has come and gone, but really, shouldn’t every day be Earth Day?

There’s been a lot of talk about green IT lately, but the reality is, most companies aren’t looking to save the world – “green” is a consideration, among others, when making a decision about technology. In other words, they’re not going to overhaul their IT infrastructure just to green it up – but they will go through that overhaul if they can somehow benefit from it.

Sure, the concept of green IT is a tad over-hyped right now, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It wasn’t so long ago that being environmentally conscious made you a tree-hugger. Now it makes you a smart business – one that others look up to and try to emulate.

Being blatantly wasteful is, in today’s world, likely to turn off customers.

Only a few years ago green products weren’t taken all that seriously. Many people believed they’d never go mainstream. My, how times have changed. In IDC’s recent green IT study, the research firm found that half of respondents look at green IT when choosing a supplier.Perhaps the savvy IT manager has already figured out that it’s easier to sell green IT to C-level execs than servers and SANs and multi-core and SOA – especially if it’s going to save them money.

Some governments are starting to legislate businesses to reduce their carbon emissions, so, in some cases, businesses will have to go green whether they like it or not. And there’s going to be a need for consultants who can help them get there.

But VARs don’t necessarily know the best approach to take when selling green IT. Distributors have a lot to offer here, because they offer such a broad range of products and solutions from myriad vendors. Perhaps, in the future, we’ll see “green” business units, in addition to practices around wireless technology, or storage, or networking, where VARs can pull together an end-to-end green solution.

In the meantime, though, distributors can provide both education and solutions around green IT to help VARs reach that eco-conscious customer – and even the ones who aren’t so eco-conscious but want to save money.

The green technology that seems to be getting the most attention these days is virtualization (and, by extension, server consolidation), which helps to reduce the physical footprint of a data centre and cut back on power and cooling. (Many companies admit that their virtualization projects were not driven by a desire to go green, but by other factors, such as reducing costs or improving server utilization – but the green aspects are a big bonus.)

But there are other technologies – everything from high-end videoconferencing systems that help cut down on travel (and carbon emissions) to desktop PCs that run on less power. Even more eco-friendly packaging and recycling options can have a huge impact on the environment.

Some vendors are already stepping up to the plate. Sun Microsystems has actually introduced “eco-consulting” for its partners, which will help them build eco-practices (helping customers reduce their energy consumption, while providing nice margins for resellers).

In the IDC survey, 80 per cent of respondents said that green is growing in importance within their organization. Clearly, green is more than just a passing trend – and distributors can play a big role here in helping VARs bring green IT to the masses.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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