2010 may be the year that cloud computing, SSDs or virtual desktops break into the mainstream, but there is one trend that seems certain: No matter which technology grabs the brass ring, it will be largely because it offers equal or better performance with lower energy consumption.
The fear that green IT has “jumped the shark,” that is, no longer dominates the IT community’s attention, has been percolating for some time. But it seems that rather than being ignored or discounted like many failed movements of the past, green IT is moving beyond its status as a simple technology trend to become a permanent fixture in the upgrade and refresh cycle. That means enterprise executives may not view energy efficiency as the sole determinant in any new deployment, but it is at least one of the top factors in the decision-making process, even in times of relatively cheap energy like the present.
For system vendors, that means energy efficiency should be a given for any new product or platform they present, or they can forget about getting past the front door.
To be sure, there will still be any number of showcase facilities out there chock full of the latest tools and techniques, many of these mounted by firms who specialize in green technology. One of them is Corus360, which just opened a new building in Atlanta highlighting the company’s Green LITE program that finds savings in everything from asset discovery and virtualization to interior lighting. Companies like Cisco are also turning to advanced simulation software to help identify and correct inefficient systems and practices in their own enterprise operations.
And it appears that the green IT movement will get another shot in the arm in the form of $47 million in federal grant money for 14 energy-efficient projects already under way at IBM, HP, Alcatel-Lucent, Power Assure and others. The Department of Energy is awarding the grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with the hope that it will have the twin benefits of lowering energy consumption and spurring economic development.
If anything, the question for 2010 is not whether to go green, but the best way to do it. And naturally, this is largely a matter of cost. The Burton Group’s Richard Jones points out that some of the most effective tactics are the simplest, like raising data center temperature and consolidating servers and other hardware through virtualization. Of dubious value are technologies like DC power and UPS upgrades that may prove cost-effective, but only after lengthy break-even periods.
Perhaps one of the best things that could happen to the green IT movement would be an end to those special programs and initiatives that cropped up at so many enterprises over the past two years. Such projects are destined to be limited in scope, producing finite, albeit noteworthy, results.
Maybe the true mark of success would be incorporation of energy-efficient perspectives into the enterprise routine — so that it no longer requires an extra effort but becomes part of the standard operating procedure.