Monday, December 12, 2011
IT department heads must become accountable for energy consumption.
After this, businesses can get serious about using technology to reduce their carbon footprint.
KPMG technology innovation advisory director Dr Bruce McCabe says typical IT leaders can be split into two camps: those who have electricity in their budget, and the majority, who do not.
"When you look at IT being responsible for energy use, that brings up the question of chargeback and how that would work, how to charge individual departments for their energy use," McCabe says.
Given that many companies are still grappling with the intricacies of putting in place a chargeback system, it may be some time before technology is used to reduce the overall energy footprint of organisations.
McCabe believes the biggest gains in the green IT area will be made when technology is used to monitor the IT consumption of bigger assets. "Until now this has been unexplored; for any system, there is an opportunity to analyse energy use and energy efficiency."
Before the global financial crisis, green IT was high on the chief information officer's to-do list; now it is "middle of the road".
In October 2008, management consultant McKinsey put the IT industry's share of global greenhouse gas emissions at 3 per cent, and forecast a rise to 6 per cent by 2020.
McCabe says: "The single biggest step companies should look at is capacity utilisation, increasing energy savings by using virtualisation to spread the computer load" and by using fewer computers more efficiently.
Hydro Tasmania has undertaken such a task and been able to cut power consumption by more than 60 per cent.
"Moving to a virtualised server environment offers a very clear and fast return on investment, with payback available within as little as 12 months," Hydro Tasmania IT services manager Mark McLean says.
With IT services firm Logica, the company is working on other power saving projects such as desktop virtualisation.
"To limit paper waste in the organisation, we are in the final stages of a print project that will provide us with a centralised monitoring solution to show exactly where and who in the organisation is responsible for large amounts of printing," McLean says. "We are already seeing a reduction in paper consumption, but expect this to grow to a total reduction of 30-40 per cent once the project is fully completed."
McLean says the business will roll out several other projects using technology to cut carbon emissions. "These will include high-definition video conferencing units (and) desktop collaboration and screen sharing tools to reduce the need for staff to travel between our offices across Tasmania or interstate."
Hydro Tasmania is not a typical example of where Australian businesses are at with their green IT agenda.
McCabe believes the majority of Australian businesses are looking at green IT in terms of procurement practices, buying more energy efficient products and looking at virtualisation.
"Businesses need to get a sense of the end user footprint, capacity utilisation for processing power and storage; looking at virtualisation.
However, first they need to understand, measure and model energy consumption, arrange for separate billing, some company instrumenting, obtain data from every room or machine."
McCabe believes businesses need to get clever with data centres.
"This is where the biggest savings can be made -- look at cloud computing, look at things such as relocating a data centre with the airconditioning, clever solutions for cooling."
The biggest gains, however, are in the field.
"Using IT to decrease the energy footprint of the organisation, such as video conferencing and fleet management; using software to gain visibility of individual departments or individuals."
Posted by MR.X at 8:26 PM