Midsize CIOs need to start going green, not just for the environmental benefits but also for the bottom line, Gartner Research Vice President Simon Mingay told throngs of IT executives Wednesday at the Midsize Enterprise Summit Europe 2008 in Barcelona.
According to Mingay, research shows that the global amount of carbon dioxide emissions needs to be reduced 60 percent to 80 percent by 2050. More immediate, a 25 percent reduction is necessary by roughly 2020.
"We're not just talking about small amounts of tweaking and small amounts of changing," he said, adding that IT currently represents about 2 percent of total global CO2 emissions. Within that 2 percent, 39 percent can be attributed to PCs and monitors, 23 percent to servers and cooling, 15 percent to fixed-line telecom, 9 percent to mobile telecom, 7 percent to LAN and office telecom, and 6 percent to printers.
In an effort to curb carbon emissions and boost the green bottom line, Mingay suggested several best practices and action items CIOs can leverage to drive green IT.
First, companies need to define a green policy and develop a strategy around greening the data center, client computing, the network and printing.
"Most midsize organizations don't have a corporate social responsibility policy," he said.
From there, CIOs must start measuring their power consumption and carbon emissions and set targets for where they'd like them to be, Mingay suggested. After that, getting employees on board is the next crucial step, which can be achieved by installing recycling points and drafting an employee charter that lays out green behaviors, practices and responsibilities. These can include points and rewards for employees who take going green seriously.
Another, and Mingay said highly important step, is to start conserving power. Switching off PCs and monitors when they're not in use, setting them to standby, prohibiting screen savers and enforcing aggressive power management policies can drastically reduce power costs and consumption, he said, noting that research has found roughly 60 percent of PCs are left on after business hours.
Other factors, like virtualization, reduction in overprovisioning and use of power management tools can also have a great impact as companies struggle to transition from an "always on" to an "always available" environment.
"Everything doesn't have to be on 24/7," he said.
In addition, steps like considering energy at every IT decision level, taking a holistic approach to reducing IT cooling and power costs and evaluating vendors based on their green strategies and what ecological and economical values they offer can reduce total cost of ownership, despite the solutions potentially costing a small bit more up front. Part of that, however, requires CIOs to be aware of vendor "green wash" and to investigate further exactly what their vendors' plans are for reducing, reusing and recycling equipment.
Lastly, Mingay said, the use of green printers and printing practices can make a world of difference. Cutting paper use is a good start, as paper consumes roughly 10 times of the energy required to print on it. Mingay estimated that 178 million printers, copiers and MFDs were shipped in 2007 and the average worker prints about 1,000 pages, or 40 pounds, of paper per month. Mingay's advice: print less, educate users, select Energy Star-rated printers and consolidate.
"It's not rocket science," Mingay said.
Mingay's message resonated with CIOs and IT executives, many of whom have already implemented some sort of green strategy.
Nicholas Pendlebury, IT manager of London-based Fulham Football Club, said his organization is already working with VMware and virtualizing servers and desktops as part of a five-year cost savings plan. Part of Pendlebury's green IT strategy involves virtualizing servers during off hours, meaning once the work day ends, everything migrates to one server and at 6 a.m. it migrates back. That practice alone has introduced massive cost savings, mostly in cooling and power consumption.
For Pendlebury, however, going green is not just about cost savings, or the environment; it's about public perception.
"It's an image," he said. "We want to be the first football club to do this."
Igor Saucek, head of IT for London's Royal Academy of Arts, said his organization has also put some recent green practices into place, such as having computers automatically switch off at night after a certain idling period and having sensors installed in the lighting system to cut off the lights when no movement is sensed. Another step, which sounds small, but has gone a long way, has been including notes in e-mail signatures asking employees to think twice before they print out messages.
And while Pendlebury said Fulham Football Club's green initiatives bolster its public image, the cost savings is great and reducing the company's impact on the environment has its rewards.
"I want this place to be here for my kids," he said.