Data center cost avoidance will continue to be discussed by companies looking to trim budgets in the new year. As such, Evolving Solutions’ Data Center Leaders interview series continues its data center cost avoidance theme into February as we discuss Green IT with Microsoft’s Toby Velte, PhD.
Green IT is a subject that tends to generate as much in the way of negative discussion as it does positive. While green IT has at its core lowering data center and business costs as a whole, it is also sometimes unfairly seen more as trendy concept than sound business strategy.
In addition to roles as a Global Account Technology Strategist with Microsoft, and regular blogger to Fast Company, Velte has co-authored the book Green IT: Reduce Your Information System’s Environmental Impact While Adding to the Bottom Line. In his book, Velte shares strategies designed to help companies evolve into green IT practices with bottom-line financial benefits financial benefits as an objective.
In Evolving Solutions interview with Velte below, we discuss how to achieve data center cost avoidance, with a focus on Green IT practices:
What tips would you offer for business seeking to reduce data center costs?
The key components of the costs associated in data centers have shifted significantly recently. While the need for more storage and speed are omnipresent, as are high costs for human capital and space, power is no longer cheap and ubiquitous. Management of data centers needs to be completely re-evaluated to take these changes and technology advances into consideration. The starting point is to trend the current consumption of resources (human or otherwise) then project future need. Armed with that knowledge, a fresh look at the future data center should be approached.
“Green IT” has at its heart reducing data costs, but can be a hard sell as many see it only as a “hot topic”. How would you recommend selling the idea of green IT to upper management?
By way of an oversimplification, organizations can look at Green IT projects through two lenses.
One lens views Green IT being driven by corporate responsibility or altruism, while the other is like any other IT project -that is in terms of the pressures of capitalism.
I try to cast each Green IT project through the latter. If we can’t produce the most fantastic ROI for these projects they will ultimately not be funded and carried out and I want (like others who appreciate the environment) to get these projects funded and completed.
KW/hr energy prices in the Midwest are among the lowest. Do you foresee more companies migrating physical data centers to take advantage of this?
Yes, we see that now. But not only in the Midwest, look at the Northwest where power is about the lowest in the US. This is where the biggest new data centers are being built. Taken further, one could foresee datacenters being built up globally where power, space, and administrative costs are very low; perhaps in a third or second-world location with access to nuclear or hydro-generated power.
You mentioned in a recent post on Fast Company that over 90% of consumers in the US say they’d consider switching brands if they learned about a company’s negative environmental practices and 75% of MBAs said they were willing to accept a 10-20% lower salary to work for a responsible company. Why are these statistics alone not enough to remove the “fad” label that hangs over green IT?
There are still myths about Green products that were derived from the early days of environmentally-sounds products; specifically that these products are not as effective as the standard counterpart, more expensive, and generally less available.
While not completely unwarranted initially (think early hybrid vehicles or CFLs), more recent products can stand up to any consumer-derived test. Consumers also must start to trust corporations that make “green” claims. There is a lot of greenwashing still going on and it will take standards and certification to come into popular use before our trust will grow enough to move from fad to mainstream. Look at the ‘organic’ food trend for a recent experience.
Anything else you’d like to add on Green IT or data center cost avoidance?
The biggest data center cost avoidance is the data center you never have to build. With approximately a doubling of our data centers every five years, there are many groups contemplating a new data center.
Using green techniques, the enormous cost associated with building a new data center can be deferred for years or eliminated altogether.