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The colour of efficient IT

Computer Weekly Staff

Green IT may be going the way of green politics. Once the passion and preserve of fringe political parties, ecology has gone mainstream.

There is scope for cynicism on the topic of green IT. Products that would have been released in any case can always be "greenwashed". And an over-concentration on power usage can diminish the significance of "green" as a strategic issue.

For energy usage is only a part of the ecological impact of technology. For one thing, most of a PC's environmental damage is wrought before it is even switched on.

Moreover, green IT impacts - if the metaphor can be forgiven - the entire ecology of the IT market, and the role of IT in user organisations.

In terms of the global IT market, green IT puts into question the PC paradigm - computers built with the capacity to stand alone from networked computing. Thin client machines might be more green, and, as is suggested in "Is green IT an illusion?", better for building sustainable networks in the developing world.

In terms of business technology, green IT promotes centralisation of procurement, and so represents an opportunity for the CIO to enforce a strategic vision that will resonate well with boards haunted by requirements to be socially responsible. It meshes with virtualisation strategies. It connects with the need to overhaul, or just deal with, legacy systems. And it connects with the bigger picture of eco-friendly working practices that are enabled by mobile technologies.

Green can also associate IT with eye-catching scientific innovation. We have this week reported on a hydrogen fuel cell system being used to back up one firm's datacentre power supply. And there was a recent fuel cell system installation of note in the datacentre of Deutsche Telekom's T-Systems ICT division in Munich.

As green IT becomes more embedded, and less remarkable, a more hard-nosed analysis, focused on cost, may emerge. But, for now, green is good.


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