I’ve been encouraged lately by a noticeable rise in interest in Green IT. For some time I have been talking and blogging about the need to reduce the somewhat significant ecological footprint of IT operations, and I can tell you that even little over a year ago the reaction was mostly one of indifference. At some presentations, I could almost hear the whispers of “go back to Berkeley hippy”, even though I have never been there and my hair is quite short .Fellow Green advocates  reported similar results, so it wasn’t just my presenting skills. Lately though, the questions I get at presentations show not only more interest, but more engagement and a wider understanding of the issue. Mostly this engagement comes from people in Government IT roles, where there are departmental Green directives with real targets  on  a wide range of operational activities, including  IT.

Increasingly it is also businesses that are starting to understand that there can be financial benefits to reducing the amount of electricity being used to power IT, a fairly major factor in ITs environmental impact (the other main factors are hardware making its way into landfills and the hazardous materials used in manufacturing hardware). With average commercial electricity prices rising 12% since 2005 (a figure I worked out from checking out the US Dept of Energy site), coupled with the fact that  we have been throwing more and more servers (each increasingly power hungry due to their increased performance) into our data centers, the cost of powering these data centers must surely becoming more noticeable.

However, when I mention rising power costs to an audience, I like to ask for a show of hands on how many of them, being IT professionals, actually see their power bill let alone are held accountable. Usually the response is about 10% who do. This may go partly to explain the still low adoption of Green IT plans in businesses as the pain points are not being felt by CIOs, and maybe even the CFO/CBCs (“Chief Bean Counters”) who get the corporate power bill have not yet put 2 and 2 together.

So, this leads me to my the question I’d like to throw out there – with most of the economic outlooks forecasting a downturn over the next year or so, will the resultant close look at costs be an opportunity to promote Green IT strategies that are goaled on measured on reducing operating and capital costs?

If you are looking for an opportunity to get approval for a Green IT project at work, this may be your chance. Even if you aren’t that motivated by the need to reduce ITs carbon footprint, wouldn’t you rather have your companies reduce costs by using virtualization to reduce the power bill and hardware costs than having to do something else such as layoffs?

Either way, your Green IT proposal needs to be sold to the CFO as well as the CIO. As such, your plan will need to include real and measurable financial targets  on the amount of electricity cost savings as well as the usual ROI.

I’m planning on creating a calculator that can demonstrate the ROI of Green server consolidation and thin client projects. If you have any ideas or know of similar calculators, please let me know.

Also, if you are in a Government department and want to raise awareness of Green IT with your CIO, we are holding a Virtual Roundtable on Green It in Government on August 12.   A panel of experts from Federal, State and Local Government agencies, as well as Simon Crosby from Citrix will be there to discuss ROI models, existing mandates and what the future may hold. This will be a low time investment opportunity for your CIO to learn more about Green IT. If you are a CIO yourself, I’m glad to see you are choosing to use some of your valuable time to read my blog and please register for the Roundtable  .

You can register for the Virtual CIO Roundtable here.