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Green IT


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The Cloud may invoke images of effervescence that leaves no trace,
but in reality the Cloud means just another data center, along with the
accompanying Carbon Footprint. The issue of being Green has never
been higher on the agenda, but how do professionals feel about Green IT,
and how does this vary either side of the Atlantic? This paper compares
the enthusiasm for Green IT between the US and Europe.

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Green IT

  1. 1. Who's HEARD OF GREEN IT? The Cloud may invoke images of effervescence that leaves no trace, but in reality the Cloud means just another data center, along with the accompanying Carbon Footprint. The issue of being Green has never been higher on the agenda, but how do professionals feel about Green IT, and how does this vary either side of the Atlantic? This paper compares the enthusiasm for Green IT between the US and Europe.
  2. 2. Who’s Heard of Green IT? IDG Connect Introduction A recent report, The Cloud Begins With Coal, calculated that the ICT ecosystem now approaches 10% of world electricity generation. “The zettabyte era already uses about 50% more energy than global aviation.” While in recent years, we’ve seen Greenpeace release the “How Clean Is Your Cloud?” & “How Dirty Is Your Data?” reports, along with a feature-length article in the New York Times entitled “Power, Pollution and the Internet”, which includes the startling quote, “A single data center can take more power than a medium-size town.” Whether for or against, Green IT has gradually become a major topic within IT in recent years. But has a once passionate and polarised audience become apathetic after years of intense media attention? How does feeling on the subject vary either side of the Atlantic, and do those within IT feel enough is being done to promote the subject? To gauge the levels of enthusiasm and apathy towards Green IT, we surveyed 149 business & IT professionals from Europe and the US and compared the results. Interestingly, the number of US participants proved far lower than European, due to far less enthusiasm for partaking in the survey. Summary • Over 70% of respondents feel governments should be doing more to promote Green IT, while 65% feel businesses aren’t doing enough. • US professionals are almost twice as likely as Europeans to feel that enough is being done to promote Green IT by business & government. • Over 85% of business & IT professionals feel Green IT is important. • There were low levels of interest in completing the survey from the US. • Those US professionals who did complete the survey were generally more enthusiastic about its importance than Europeans. [Page 2]
  3. 3. Who’s Heard of Green IT? IDG Connect Findings The results are surprisingly similar with 86% of both US & European professionals saying they feel Green IT is important. Those who feel Green IT isn’t an important issue is slightly higher in the US, but there is more uncertainty within Europe. Do you believe promoting Green IT practice is important overall? United States 86% Europe 86% Yes 86% 7% No 7% Not sure 4% 10% Source: IDG Connect & Green Computing Report Comments varied wildly on the subject. On the US side, comments often stated they were unsure what was being done within their company, region or sector when it comes to Green IT, while those who said it wasn’t important said the topic caused unnecessary interference from the government. In Europe, comments also ranged from positive to negative. One French respondent called Green IT “a solution looking for a problem,” while another, also from France, said it was important and progress was well under way. • Rather surprisingly, and at odds with the common school of thought, the US are more bothered about Green impacting business on every level. While Environment & Waste are of highest importance on both sides of pond, the US gained 7% and 8% higher respectively. • Despite the common perception that Europe is more eco-inclined that the US, both indifference and perceived lack of importance is higher among Europeans - but both seem less concerned about the potential cost benefits or the impact on Company public image. [Page 3]
  4. 4. Who’s Heard of Green IT? IDG Connect How important do you think Green IT is based on the following criteria? United States Important Europe Indifferent Not important Reducing cost Company public image 0% 22% 7% 22% 79% 0% 21% 71% 7% 22% 64% 21% 14% 55% Cutting datacentre waste 78% 71% Environment 24% 21% 57% 21% 22% 56% 19% 25% Source: IDG Connect & Green Computing Report The results clearly show that both businesses & governments need to be doing more to promote Green IT; over half of US respondents feel both need to do more, while in Europe the figure rises to 70% for governments and over 65% for businesses. US professionals have more faith in business & government; almost double said they were doing enough compare to European, but the level of uncertainty on the subject was also higher. In the US, comments were mainly focused on the Government, one saying they “appear to be in it for the political correctness, whether it works or not is irrelevant,” while another said that, “Government interference is excessive and needless.” Businesswise, one American commented, “I don’t even think it is on the radar in our area or sector”, while another said business need to do more; “[They] have mandates and incentives that punish or reward but have to be more proactive.” [Page 4]
  5. 5. Who’s Heard of Green IT? IDG Connect Do you believe enough is being done by the government in your region to promote Green IT? 29% Do you believe enough is being done by businesses in your region to promote Green IT? 21% 21% 22% 57% 50% 16% 11% 22% 13% 65% 73% Yes No Not sure Source: IDG Connect & Green Computing Report A lack of long term vision or direction on the subject was highlighted as a failure of European governments, along with a lack of education & encouragement. One commented that governments needed more people with Green IT knowledge to be effective. One Cypriot said, “Government and business in Europe tend to talk a good game, but don’t do much outside of high profile projects.” Many in Europe, especially Southern and Eastern, said they had almost no experience of Green IT within their or any other companies. One Belgian said it “has not yet reached central Europe in any form,” while another said issues to do with continued survival of companies in tough times “has taken the eye off green IT.” Many explained that little was being done outside of mere lip service, one Cypriot saying, “Most businesses are sceptic in investing in technologies or procedures towards Green IT.” A lack of emphasis on the rewards of Green IT, aside from the potential cost aspect, was cited as a problem. “There is a highlevel assumption that Green IT is not cost-effective in many organizations. This is a fallacy leading from an insufficiently holistic approach,” explained one European. [Page 5]
  6. 6. Who’s Heard of Green IT? IDG Connect Background Green Fatigue Requires A New Way With so many Green IT-based papers being released (and often such polarised thinking on the subject), it’s possible that Green fatigue may account for the difficulty in finding ample numbers of U.S. participants, as well as causing a higher level of indifference as to the specifics from the Europeans. Often Green-based IT reports feature an emphasis on the negative, which while important, can drain interest and enthusiasm, on top of marketers bandying around false or suspect information from all sides (aka ‘Greenwashing’). One commenter on the US side of the survey said that there was “Too much greenwash, too much cultural inertia (resistance to change/innovation) and too many false escape routes e.g. outsourcing/managed services/cloud,” which was echoed by others. Despite much doom and gloom among Green IT literature, there are however occasionally a few positive releases : The “Green ICT Handbook” from Global Action Plan, “The Enabling Technologies Of A LowCarbon Economy” from Enabling Technology, The GeSI SMARTer 2020 report, for example, but if more Green IT reports took a positive, proactive spin on the subject, attitudes on the subject may improve. Our survey shows that most professionals feel that Green IT needs more promotion, and taking a more positive spin on them could result in more enthusiasm for the subject. How the US & Europe Differ On Green Policy-wise, though it differs across individual countries, Europe as a whole is right at the fore when it comes to trying to go Green. The EU is funding the "Eurocloud" project for cleaner Cloud technology, and aims to make Europe the "home of Green computing". Couple this with numerous directives and regulations and it's very hard to fault Europe on its policy efforts, while during his election campaign, President Obama stated that 'climate change is not a hoax', something that wouldn't need to be said in most countries. In Greenpeace’s Good Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics - it sought to ‘evaluate leading consumer electronics companies based on their commitment and progress' in a variety of environmental criteria. In this, Indian electronics company Wipro took the top spot, while the US and Europe both featured two each in the top ten - HP (2nd) & Dell (5th), Nokia (3rd) & Phillips (10th). On a more company-to-company basis, there are good guys and bad guys from both regions. In Europe, SAP and Logica have made significant efforts, while Google & Facebook are both embracing Green data centers. On the other hand, Microsoft recently came under fire for trying to hide a $210,000 penalty relating to energy use and heavy use of diesel generators meant for ‘backup use'- 3,615 hours in a year compared to Yahoo's 65. [Page 6]
  7. 7. Who’s Heard of Green IT? IDG Connect The Bright Side While it’s true that IT accounts for a higher percentage of energy consumption than at any point the industry’s history, EMC’s CSO, Kathrin Winkler makes a good point to remind us, “If the automobile industry had gotten efficient as quickly as the IT industry in the last 40 years, we'd be getting 450,000 miles to the gallon.” Scandinavia has become increasingly important in the data center world thanks to its use of renewable energies and natural cooling, among them Norway’s Green Mountain and the Thor Data Center in Iceland. Meanwhile in the US, Microsoft have built a data center in Wyoming that runs on biofuel from a waste facility. Conclusion Green IT continues to be a polarising issue within the tech community. With so much, often contradictory literature being continually released, it can be hard to gain some proper perspective and formulate ideas and strategies. This problem is only exacerbated by a lack of overarching approach from either governments or the business community. Our findings show that while many acknowledge that Green IT is an important topic – especially when it comes to environmental impact & waste - business & IT professionals from both Europe and the US feel that government and businesses need to do more to promote awareness. About IDG Connect IDG Connect, a division of International Data Group (IDG), the world’s largest technology media company, produces, publishes and distributes local IT and business information on behalf of a truly global client base. Established in 2005, we have a fully nurtured audience of 2.6 million professional decision-makers from 130 countries, and an extended reach of 38 million names. This lets us conduct research, create independent analysis and opinion articles, and drive long-term engagement between professionals and B2B marketers worldwide. For more information visit [Page 7]