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2/28/2008
07:41 PM
Terry Sweeney
Terry Sweeney
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Stomping On Your Carbon Footprint

The "greening" of IT is very à la mode right now, especially in storage. But this umbrella term suffers from overuse, and near as I can tell, is a euphemism for using less electricity. It's also a "feature" that enables some vendors to bump up their prices. So what exactly is the fuss again?

The "greening" of IT is very à la mode right now, especially in storage. But this umbrella term suffers from overuse, and near as I can tell, is a euphemism for using less electricity. It's also a "feature" that enables some vendors to bump up their prices. So what exactly is the fuss again?What we used to call consolidation and virtualization (for servers or storage) now gets the green treatment. One of Ford's IT directors touted the two data center movements at a conference Thursday. I don't doubt there's probably a really good business case behind it. But do fewer servers and LUNs make an enterprise green?

Vendors of data deduplication and MAID (massive array of idle disks) technology have jumped on this eco-bandwagon. Are we really going to label any technology that conveys the slightest operational efficiency as green?

I click off the power strip in my home office every night. Where's my Nobel?

Yeah, right. I'm not the first to question the usefulness or substance to the green claims of IT vendors. Jon Toigo's far more eloquent on this topic than I'll ever be. He properly scoffs at vendors that want you to buy more stuff (but it's green stuff, see) to save money and scorns users who fail to use the greenest button on their keyboard. (Hint: It's marked 'Delete.')

Personally, I'd like to see all IT vendors expand their understanding and implementation of green technology. How about getting really serious about wide-scale recycling of servers, laptops, cell phones, batteries -- you name it. Maybe they could trumpet the amount of reclaimed metals in their products.

Or maybe vendors could funnel some of their foundation money or R&D budgets to a joint venture with a solar- or wind-power company to demonstrate (or expedite) the off-grid data center? They could even lobby state and national lawmakers for tax incentives to make this happen. I'm not a Prius owner, but rebates and credits did wonders for the sales of hybrids here in California.

It would be nice to see the greening of IT take another couple big, logical steps -- something a little larger than turning off the lights in the data center on the way out at night.

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