Green IT having marginal impact only

by Michael Smith

Organizations in the UK employing green IT policies are making small savings, according to parts distributor Bell Micro. However, the level of energy savings achieved casts doubts upon the current value of those green activities implemented to date.

The results have been extracted from some research commissioned in 2008. Headline findings include:

* Despite the fact that much has been talked about green IT in the UK, only 21% of organizations have adopted a formal, written policy on what the IT department should be doing to make the organization more environmentally-friendly.

* Many energy saving measures are adopted by fewer than 1 in 4 organizations with a green IT policy, e.g. using energy-saving hardware and software (25%), use of virtualization technology (13%) and implementation of digital video communications (11%)

* Outsourcing key IT functions and processes is a very common practice in the UK. Of 73% of organizations handling all or some of their IT tasks in this way, only 27% bother to check the green credentials of their suppliers.

I assume that it will still take a while for people to realize that green IT can save them money and especially here if they get away from proprietary software for which licenses they have to pay lots of money.

Whether or not one uses an entire Open Source operating system, Open Source software is available also to run on Windows such as, for instance, Open Office. This is a very adequate replacement for Microsoft Office – except that it does not have Outlook or the silly Notes and such – and Open Office can save all documents automatically as MS files.

The Outlook issue can also be overcome by the use of another program, and Open Source email client, which integrates into others. So there is no need to forgo Outlook.

Other programs too are in the Open Source field that enable savings to be made and also to green the IT infrastructure of a company, however small or big.

As with all things green in the office and workplace IT seems to also lag behind. Research has shown that while many employees in offices want to do the right green things they have little or no say as regards to the issue and to the right equipment and products that would enable them to be green in the office.

It would appear that with the IT sector in business and industry it is the same thing and that companies do not seem to get it – at least not properly. A problem factor here is also that on the IT level they very often are tied to proprietary software through a variety of vendors and have no way out of that situation.

When it comes to Green IT the readers, I am sure, will know that I am very much an advocate – and not only in respect of Green IT – of Open Source software and this not just because, theoretically, it is free as in gratis, but because you do not get tied down to a particular brand.

The main problem still is though that much of he hardware does not always – immediately – connect up with say Linux operating systems. Nor are some websites, notably the ones of the European Union, usable with browsers other than Internet Explorer, which means that they do not render properly in, say, Firefox or Opera, and hence cannot interacted with in a proper manner.

As far as Green IT is concerned, however, Open Source enables savings on a financial level as well as on an equipment level for most of the Open Source applications are not as power hungry as are those made by Microsoft or other proprietary software makers. Savings all round that way.

© M Smith (Veshengro), January 2009