Cutting carbon emissions and going green is no longer just an option: it is the inevitable future of business in the 21st century. Execs are being urged to junk their Jag and pick up a Prius. Business travellers are encouraged to take the train over the 'plane. And organisations are urged, through legislation, public relations and sheer economics, to increase the efficiency of their operations, from logistics to networks to datacentres. Yet there is a common misconception that going green is a tiresome, expensive process, needing support at every turn. This couldn't be further from the truth. These myths are simply based on outdated impressions of green technology.
The reality is that green technology is now becoming the norm and it actually makes business and environmental sense to use it. For example, take the network. This is traditionally the beating heart of a business: if it is not working, then the business cannot operate. As a result, it is imperative that IT departments are able to use the most capable technology they can to keep their network performing.
More and more, the most capable and the greenest technology are one and the same. Currently, green technology offers the same functionality as traditional technology, and for much the same up-front price. However, it also adds a host of additional benefits in terms of costs, technology and its influence on the organisation. For example, green networking switches use less energy and so generate less heat. This means that the latest generation of products also have fewer moving parts such as fans. This results in less maintenance, a longer lifespan and a greatly reduced total cost of ownership (TCO), above the reduced energy costs green technology provides.
From a technological standpoint, green products can offer much more intelligent functionality than their traditional counterparts. Green network switches can now shut down automatically when not in use; they can schedule wireless access and port use to ensure that maximum efficiency is achieved at all times; and can even adjust power usage to correspond with the amount of Ethernet cable used in the network. Put simply, green network technology lasts longer, costs less and does the same job as traditional equipment. As a result, adopting it becomes as much a business decision as an environmental one.
The one important question is what should be done by organisations currently using traditional networking equipment? After all, an older switch won't magically become as efficient as a newer model, while upgrading a network early on in its life cycle is simply wasteful. Like any other equipment upgrade, making the switch to green technology should be a simple matter of measuring costs and benefits. Organisations should measure the total lifetime costs of using green technology against those of their current equipment: when it becomes cost-effective to upgrade to a newer model, taking into account an increased lifespan and lower energy costs, then it's time to switch. As a result, going green simply becomes another part of the equipment procurement process.
The green revolution is not going anywhere: whether it is done for purely altruistic or financial reasons, organisations will need to become more energy-efficient. However, achieving this is far from a Herculean task that will cost the earth: if IT departments can sort fact from fiction with green technology, they will soon be able to reap the benefits.
Chris Davies is general manager D-Link UK & Ireland
This was first published in July 2011