IDC Notes Shift from Tactical to Strategic Green IT Planning

A new survey finds that IT organizations are thinking strategically about the implications of "going green."

To the extent that U.S. firms are embracing green IT, they appear to be doing so tactically ---- in other words, primarily to cut costs.

That's one finding from a new survey from market watcher IDC, which reported that more than three-quarters of U.S. companies cite improved energy efficiency as the No. 1 reason to go green. This isn't surprising. IBM Corp., for example, has been talking up the rising cost of energy -- and using it to market its "green" System z mainframes -- for nearly half a decade.

What's surprising is that a significant number of IT organizations are thinking strategically about the implications of "going green."

More to the point, IDC says, these shops are aware of the importance of growing green: nearly half of respondents identified a need to develop green IT and sustainability policies to manage future growth. While most green IT adopters are focused on the bottom line -- i.e., going green to boost energy efficiency and cut energy costs -- nearly as many also identify a need to manage growth in a responsible or sustainable manner. This is the very stuff of forward-looking (or strategic) thinking.

"IT executives are feeling the pinch of their budgets being squeezed," said IDC senior vice president Vernon Turner in a prepared release. "Because they understand that much of their expanding infrastructure remains underutilized -- adding to their company's capital and energy costs -- green IT policies can help establish a more comprehensive approach to utilizing their assets."

Right now, shops are focusing on quantifying Green: respondents confirm that the development of green measurement or management tools is a top priority.

They're also factoring in energy efficiency -- especially compliance with prominent efficiency standards -- into their buying decisions, according to IDC. More than 60 percent of respondents say they prefer to purchase gear that supports green industry standards such as Energy Star or EPEAT; a similar percentage have contracted with third-party vendors to dispose of IT assets.

Elsewhere, respondents generally plan to prioritize four distinct green project areas over the coming year, according to IDC. For example, more than 90 percent hope to encourage customers to shift from print- to online-oriented interactions, while four-fifths plan to migrate to a modular data center model. Similarly, 80 percent of respondents say they're pursuing "thin client" or "client device" strategies, while an unspecified number plan to deploy data center software that offers better support for thermal dynamic modeling or control.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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