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Metrics Pose Green IT Challenge

Green IT is all about reducing wasted energy, wasted space and wasted materials. The difficulty is in establishing a measurement and reporting format that accurately and fairly represents data center efficiency which can be easily compared to other data centers.

According to Forrester Research, sustainability (AKA 'green IT') is 'emerging as the next driver of business innovation and growth for many companies, driven by rising regulatory and customer pressures, the need to enhance their brands, and competitive differentiation.' It states the sustainability consulting services opportunity alone will reach $9.6 billion by 2015. While only 26 percent of organizations have budget directly allocated to green IT, Forrester finds that adoption of green IT is much higher, approaching 70 percent in areas of the data center and distributed IT.

With as much as 18 percent of world energy consumed by IT, reducing energy consumption is the area gettig the most attention, says CSC's Siki Giunta, vice president of cloud computing and software services. However, despite the growing interest and activity, there is a significant challenge to realizing the benefits of green IT, especially as it relates to the other emerging mega theme, cloud computing, says Giunta. The big barrier to green clouds right now is the lack of industry wide agreement on measuring data center energy consumption, she states. "What will be measured -- kilobytes per minute or kilobytes per workload, how will it be measured  and how often will it be measured." 

What isn't up for debate is whether enterprises will go green. She says they will inevitably green their cloud environments--by choice or by force.  Every data center will publish its energy consumption online and customers will use this energy data as purchasing criterion. Eco-friendly consumer brands will advertise the "green-ess" of their IT.  And before long, governments will realize that to protect the earth they will need to mandate data center energy efficiency, as they did with appliances and automobiles. "If we do, cloud computing will prove itself revolutionary once again--not just on cost and agility but on environmental impact," she said.

Forrester's Chris Mines, SVP, research director, wrote that IT hardware is getting green fast. "It (Intel) estimates that the 1 billion PCs in place worldwide in 2007 used 320 tera-watt-hours of electricity that year. Fast-forward to 2014, when the installed base will have doubled to 2 billion PCs; they will use 1/2 the energy (151 Twh) while delivering 17 times the computing capability."

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