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Study: IT Chooses Security Over Green

2009 Converge IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) Trends Report conducted by Converge and Osterman Research reveals trends in IT asset disposition
PEABODY, Mass., Mar. 2, 2009 " Where does all that "old" technology go? How prepared are U.S. companies to properly phase out millions of tons of laptops, desktops, cell phones, servers and other essential IT gear every year? Is being green the top motivator for IT managers in determining how e-waste is handled?

These and other new findings are reported today in the 2009 Converge IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) Trends Report conducted by Converge and Osterman Research.

According to the 2009 Converge IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) Trends Report, about half of the IT managers in a national sample say their companies' technology investments will remain steady this year, despite a sluggish economy. Two-thirds of the respondents say their organizations do not have formal "green IT" plans. In regard to managing phased-out technology, IT managers are twice as concerned about data security as about being green.

"Sustainable computing requires more than just environmental sensitivity," says Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research. "Environmental compliance is important, clearly. But it is just one piece of a complex risk equation associated with decommissioning technology. A pure focus on being green may actually create security vulnerabilities as tons of computers are offloaded to recyclers that may be limited in chain-of-custody reporting, remarketing channels and redeployment options needed for enterprise level IT asset disposition."

E-waste is a problem that all IT managers know about and has been quietly rising as an IT priority. A full 100 percent of the survey respondents say that they are aware of their organizations' e-waste policies and practices, and about two-thirds say their companies have a formal IT asset disposal plan.

But the Converge survey also sheds light on the various methods companies employ, as well as the varying awareness of options from company to company.

"Many companies are still wondering how to best handle the challenge of asset disposition," says Chris Adam, director of IT Asset Disposition Services for Converge. "Awareness of ITAD is off the charts, but a lot of e-waste still goes into the waste stream. That is material that's not being managed at all, let alone properly."

Shockingly, about 15 percent of the IT managers in the Converge survey say their company puts e-waste into the dumpster. So for every 100 tons of e-waste disposed of by U.S., businesses, 15 tons go straight into landfills, along with the mercury, lead, cadmium, PVCs, brominated flame retardants and other dangerous compounds contained in electronic products.

The Best Defense Is a Good Offense The number one motivator for outsourcing IT asset disposition to a specialist provider such as Converge is data security""specifically, the fear of sensitive data literally going out the back door as used IT assets are unplugged from a secure network and released by the organization. Two times as many respondents identify data breaches over a desire to be green as their top concern.

"With the average cost of a data breach running nearly $7 million per episode, it's pretty clear why data security is the paramount concern," says Mr. Adam, citing February 2009 data from the Ponemon Institute. "Securing thousands, even millions of individual machines requires highly specialized skills and infrastructure. This is not something you can get from your local recycler."

Converge has built a sophisticated international network of facilities, software and business practices to ensure that sensitive data is thoroughly erased and that myriad environmental regulations are adhered to and documented with robust asset-level reporting.

The same network also allows Converge to resell computer systems or components on the secondary market. Funds from this kind of remarketing activity allow some companies to significantly mitigate their disposal cost or even pay for their ITAD programs entirely.

About Converge Converge is a global supply chain partner for technology-driven companies. The company's three business units are dedicated to just-in-time distribution of electronic components, comprehensive asset-recovery services and secure IT asset disposition (ITAD). Converge's ITAD business unit provides secure, compliant, end-of-life IT asset disposition services, including data erasure, disposal, recycling and remarketing of systems and components to enterprise clients. Founded in 1980, Converge is headquartered in Peabody, Mass., and has offices in Austin, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; Irvine, Calif.; Singapore; and Amsterdam, along with support centers throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas.

About Osterman Research Based in Black Diamond, Wash., Osterman Research is a leading national market research organization focusing on enterprise IT issues. Led by veteran technology guru Michael Osterman, the firm conducts some of the most best-known studies on topics ranging from e-mail use to network security. Mr. Osterman has been a regular columnist for Network World and publishes frequently in the IT press.

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Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading
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