IT Failing at Being 'Green'

Lack of resources is hindering control of data center energy consumption, a study finds.

Despite industrywide marketing spin espousing politically correct intentions to make data centers more environmentally sound, few IT system managers actually have any specific plans in place.

Furthermore, most IT managers give their operations failing grades in reducing energy consumption, a new industry study reported.

Lack of funding and operational resources-at least in this year's budgets-were the reasons most often cited in the new research conducted in February and released April 24 by the BPM (Business Performance Management) Forum.

Concerns are increasing about rising fuel and energy costs, carbon dioxide emissions, and global warming, yet data center energy consumption continues to steadily grow, the report said. About half of the 150 IT managers surveyed say their organizations have run out of energy resources within the recent past.

Despite the environmental concerns that everybody can agree upon, the main reason for enterprises starting "green IT" programs is financial: Rising energy costs were the top reason cited as impetus for green data center initiatives. Saving energy was secondary, according to the survey.

Highlights of the study, entitled "Lean & Green: Reducing IT Energy Drain for Business Gain," included the following:

  • Three-quarters of respondents gave their organizations a "C" grade or worse in ability to control IT energy consumption.
  • Almost two-thirds of respondents have no specific green plans in place for their data centers.
  • Nearly 20 percent of those polled spend more than $1 million per year on IT energy consumption, and 8 percent spend more than $10 million.
  • Almost half of those polled said IT energy consumption increased in their organization last year, even as the cost of energy rose.
  • Forty-six percent of respondents reported that they had run out of space, power or cooling capacity at some point.

"The results of the study point to a big gap between what IT leadership knows it needs to do and what it has accomplished to date in terms of environmental responsibility," BPM Forum Director Derek Kober told eWEEK.

Executive interviews in the report reveal that it's not cost-prohibitive to operate an environmentally sound data center, and can help save money in the long term, Kober said. More than 20 percent of respondents thought their organizations could save $100,000 or more per year by reducing server and network storage energy consumption, he said.

Energy expenditures and requirements have doubled in the last five years, due to the explosion in digital data and more power-hungry storage hardware, according to Stanford University and Greenpeace researchers.

The study reflects responses from more than 150 IT professionals in an online survey completed in February 2008.

The research was sponsored by BlueArc, a high-performance network storage provider. More information on the report can be found here.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...