Green IT Is Dead, Long Live Green IT

Written by Joe Kozlowicz on Tuesday, July 22nd 2014 — Categories: Data Center Design, Green Data Center

Networkworld pushed out an article this week asking, “What Happened to Green IT?” The piece claims that interest and effort alike have dwindled when it comes to green energy, efficiency, and ethically sourced procurement. While it does concede that green IT hasn’t completely vanished, with sustainability reports now commonplace among enterprises and manufacturers still chasing more efficient equipment, the overall tone is that green IT must be resurrected by “passionate IT professionals” to keep it alive.

The article also does give a few suggestions to kick up the momentum of green initiatives, including the inevitable citing of Google, Facebook, and Apple, who along with Microsoft are truly forging a new path for corporate sustainability and green IT alike. But the article misses the boat when it hinges on the retirement of CompTIA’s Green IT certification; or The Green IT Review stating that “most organizations are struggling with or ignoring” green IT. There are plenty of counterexamples, from SMBs like Green House Data to mandates imposed by western governments.

Big Organizations Are Still Going Big

A quick poke at Google Trends will confirm some of the article’s hypothesis: interest in Green Data Centers has declined since a peak around 2008; but Green IT has continued to pick up steam in the zeitgeist:

Green Data Center Google Trends:

green data center interest trend over time

Green IT Google Trends:

Green IT trend over time

In the meantime, UK data centers were just informed of a new measure that will give them exemption from carbon taxes (aha! Green IT is vanishing) but only if they can submit demonstrable proof that they are improving efficiency (wait, that is actually a stronger business case for efficiency).

The European green data center market is expected to grow from $5.86 billion to $18.3 billion by 2019, while globally green data centers are anticipated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31.27% through 2018. That’s a serious increase in an already large market.

The Green Grid is also still pushing for additional efficiency, releasing a five-years-in-the-making productivity metric that it hopes can replace PUE. DCeP, or Data Center Energy Productivity, aims to measure useful work produced by a data center compared to the energy it consumes.

Then you have Microsoft purchasing the 175MW output of an Illinois wind farm, an action that some people credit to increased pressure from Greenpeace in their recent report grading internet companies. That campaign has included public protests of Twitter and Amazon urging them to be more transparent. Apple took the brunt of those attacks back in 2011 and has since turned around to shoot for 100% renewable power.

There is Still Work to Do

As we detailed last week, water use is one aspect of green data centers that is largely overlooked, and there are plenty more places with room to improve. Conflict minerals and other supply chain and manufacturing issues are almost completely ignored because they’re simply the price of computing equipment, to cite a major example.

Most small businesses don’t care about green IT, it’s true. Our own customer survey revealed the green aspect wasn’t a deal clincher, and only one or two companies had ever used our green hosting to market their own organization as eco-friendly.

The Networkworld piece is right about the fact that “most CIOs will expend any amount of energy if it means meeting business expectations of uptime, response time and speed of app development and deployment.” That’s why reliability always comes first, but it doesn’t have to come at the expense of environmental consciousness.

Posted By: Joe Kozlowicz