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Green IT: a marketing ploy or new tech?

'We would do green because it makes business sense, not because it's green'

By Bruce Hoard
July 18, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Green IT is something of a chameleon that appeals to different users on different levels. From a 10,000-foot perspective, it's hard to knock the benefits of energy efficiency, recycling and vendors working side by side with users to promote the green agenda. However, many users are finding it difficult to adopt a technology that is not characterized by a wide selection of physical products that they can buy and implement in their IT infrastructures today.

In the absence of a mature green IT market, users such as PMI Mortgage Insurance Co. and Cooper Communities Inc. are cobbling together green strategies that are saving them money without negatively impacting IT performance. Many of these strategies are based on internal development efforts, while a limited number are taking shape with vendor input. For now, it seems, going green mostly means going it alone, which leaves a big vacuum for vendors to fill with their emerging green IT marketing plans.

Greenwashing?

Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at The StorageIO Group, a Stillwater, Minn.-based market research firm, takes a dim view of incipient green IT efforts, accusing vendors of "greenwashing" the market. "There's money in the green story," he asserts. "If you can make your story sell by making it sound green and appealing to that feel-good green aspect of the market, you're going to get money out of it."

Using storage as an example, Schulz cites Hewlett-Packard Co.'s June unveiling of its Adaptive Infrastructure offerings, which are described in a press release that starts out saying, "HP today introduced 'green' storage technology that can cut storage array power and cooling costs in data center by 50%."

HP's new offering includes thin provisioning and performance enhancements for the HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array family, tape drives based on the Linear Tape Open 4 standard, new DAT 160 tapes for small and medium-size businesses, and the first HP StorageWorks tape product developed exclusively for HP BladeSystem c-Class enclosures.
Schulz says the press release's focus on green is misleading because data is being moved from disk to tape, or to another tier without optimizing the products to consume less power. According to him, it's simply a shift to another technology, but it's touted as part of HP's green initiative.

Schulz acknowledges that virtualization can help reduce the number of servers, but he wonders if consolidating servers is really a shell game with no net benefits. "Here's the catch," he says. "If I go to 10 servers down to one, have I saved on power? Maybe. But does that server that I consolidate down to consume any more power than the other ones? It should, but is the ratio 10-to-1, 5-to-1, or 2-to-1?"



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