I still remember the first time I heard the phrase “Green IT”. It was a few years ago before folks like IBM started running high dollar ad campaigns touting the concept.
In fact, unlike the original launch of Earth Day in 1970, the “Green IT” movement didn’t flow from some big announcement with a lot of hype. But it certainly was a concept worthy of attention then, and clearly growing in importance and momentum today.
In recognition of Earth Day 2009, I thought it would be valuable to pause and consider “Green IT” through a network-centric lens.
In general, “Green IT” can be represented by a collection of terms borrowed from both the environmental community and the technical community:
• Realize efficiencies
Consider virtualization as an example. Virtualization results in a reduction in the number of servers required and often involves migrating off old, inefficient legacy hardware and onto more efficient power-saving platforms.
Outsourcing infrastructure management is another way to realize efficiencies. As with virtualization, outsourcing enables consolidation of more needs onto less infrastructure. Given the power-hungry nature of core IT infrastructure, driving consolidation can have a significant positive contribution towards “Green IT” objectives.
Combining my “telecom” head with my “green” heart – here are five quick ideas for driving Green IT from a network-centric perspective:
- Work anywhere. By leveraging mobile technologies, employees can make anyplace a workplace. That can include working from home, from customer locations, or from wherever is the right place to get the job done best. By eliminating the forced commute into the office, you can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption associated with employee commuting. A study last year indicated that increased telecommuting could reduce greenhouse gases by 101 million metric tons a year.
- Shrink the office. By enabling folks to work anywhere, you can also look to shrink your office space. Especially using Unified Communications and Mobile technologies, office space can become a flexible, shared resource. Sprint has implemented a program we call the “Sprint Mobile Workforce.” We have turned 70 of our locations into Sprint Mobile Zones averaging 50% less real estate square footage per employee. The direct real estate savings, so far, are nearly $20M per year. And from a “Green” perspective, that real estate reduction directly translates into reduced power and HVAC consumption.
- Reuse or Recycle Equipment. As you have business needs to upgrade equipment, whether core network routers or employee handsets, look for ways to keep the old equipment out of the landfill. If there’s really no room in your network, is there an opportunity to donate it to a non-profit with networking needs? For mobile handsets, Sprint makes it as easy as possible to keep that device from becoming toxic eWaste. For starters, consider redeploying it, either with another employee, or even letting employees take the device home as an add-a-line to replace their home phone line. If reuse isn’t an option, Sprint will gladly recycle your old phone. Our goal is to be recycling 90 percent of all wireless devices by 2017.
- Eliminate Legacy Equipment. Unified Communications is not only a tool supporting workplace flexibility, but can also enable you to eliminate power-hungry legacy PBX equipment. By implementing UC within Sprint, we are saving an additional $6-7M per year in telecom costs.
- Outsource Network Management. Moving to Managed Network Services can drive operational efficiencies beyond the mere cost savings. Service providers can work with you to consolidate equipment to further reduce energy consumption and to drive efficiencies across the network.
Every company will have its own strategy for implementing “Green IT.” I hope that I’ve given you a few more ideas to consider as you develop yours.