Sunday, September 14, 2008

Green IT - high tech greenwashing?

Now that my job is to help companies get the word out about what they have to offer, I'm finding that it's not as easy to dismiss them with a snarky line or two. Such is the case with a word that I used to let roll off my tongue on a regular basis: greenwashing. I still use it in regards to, say, BP's claims of ecosensitivity. But the latest eco-efforts in the information technology space are trickier to debunk. Some are highly suspect, of course--I've seen far too many broad claims from companies that, say, spin storage disks down, about how much they're doing for the planet. But the fact is that the IT sector needs to take steps to reduce its energy and materials usage, and there are some legitimate efforts in that arena, particularly among companies in the UK.

In representing a storage company with a green and cost-saving agenda, Ocarina Networks, I have gotten to know Doug Washburn, an analyst at Forrester Research who specializes in greening IT departments. Ocarina, we both agree, is a legitimate green business, in that its technology reduces the amount of space that's needed to store all the millions of photos, documents, videos and other data-intensive files being shared around the internet. And in talking to him, I've started taking a much closer look at the emerging category of Green IT. What I'm finding is that - first and foremost - there is a huge and growing need to take energy and materials usage into account when it comes to determining the resources allocated to IT for companies of all sizes. Cloud computing -- which for some looks like a panacea--actually raises even more questions. Just because someone else is handling some or all of your IT needs doesn't mean they're doing it in a way that is less wasteful. In looking into this emerging Green IT space, I've found some interesting sites:

Energy Matters - Green Storage Blog

Sustainable IT
Greener Computing

All food for thought, I'd say.