In many cases it costs money to go green, and the return on that power-efficiency investment takes time -- in some cases a long time. What we're hearing from customers is "Give me an ROI now." Savings from power alone takes too long for the payback, especially if energy prices continue to decline.
Most of the Instant ROI type of solutions -- server virtualization and storage optimization (backup and primary) -- typically gain that quick ROI because they delay or eliminate future purchases. As part of that process these manufacturers will also declare themselves as green. I like to call them "greener," especially in storage. While I have seen server virtualization projects actually cause the powering off and displacement of older servers, I have yet to see someone implement a storage optimization project (de-duplication, compression, archive) and actually turn off shelves of storage.
Turning off shelves of storage would typically require a complete rearchitecting of what data is written to what shelves. As I mentioned before, what these storage optimization-technologies do is delay future purchases, in some cases by years. Maybe there is a software opportunity here to have a storage application that will automatically remap your arrays to free up shelves that you could then turn off.
ROI Now is realized in data centers that were on the verge of buying more storage or servers. Faced with these facts, should green initiatives within companies continue? Part of that depends on what your organization's motivations were for Green IT. Was it to save money or to save the planet? Or was it to look good while saying you were trying to save the planet? If your organization was truly in the wanted-to-save-the-planet crowd, it seems likely that your Green IT initiatives can continue, albeit more modestly.