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Businesses baffled by tech greenwash

It’s something of a statement of the obvious but tech industry analyst Gartner has found that corporate IT departments are being overwhelmed and confused by greenwash and the vendor marketing hype around green IT.

Faced with this IT bosses are confused about the implications of green IT, including the possibility of future legislation, and where to invest their precious tech budgets.

Rakesh Kumar, research VP at Gartner, says:

“The IT industry is saturated with green IT talk. Conferences, presentations and consultants are springing up to provide guidance and advice on a range of issues that are being codified under the generic term of green IT. Unfortunately, with so much hype, users are left with a sense of confusion about where and when they should invest their time and money.”

Gartner, as it is wont to do, has provided some helpful advice on the immediate issues over the next two years that will provide a quick return on investment, as well as medium-term (five years) and long-term (which Gartner admits are esoteric and may never become mainstream) green IT issues.

Immediate green IT issues are mainly around power, cooling and floor space problems in data centres and office environments and include:

  • Modern data centre facilities’ design concepts
  • Advanced cooling technologies
  • Virtualisation technologies for server consolidation
  • Processor design and server efficiency
  • Energy management for the office environment
  • Combined heat and power

Medium-term green IT issues include:

  • Green IT procurement
  • Green asset life cycle programs
  • Videoconferencing
  • Changing people’s behaviours
  • Green legislation in data centres
  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR) and IT programs

And in the ‘way out there’ long-term green IT category are:

  • Carbon offsetting and carbon trading
  • Alternative energy sources
  • Green building design
  • Green legislation

This co-incides with a separate survey showing just seven per cent of UK businesses are able to estimate with any reasonable accuracy how much energy their IT is using, while more than two-thirds (68 per cent) did not understand the energy efficiency of their data centres.

The study of 100 IT directors, by DMW Group, revealed more than half are underestimating their IT energy consumption by a factor of two – with the actual average cost of powering an IT estate calculated at £12m per year, and growing.

All of which goes to show how far IT has yet to go to reduce its massive carbon footprint.

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