Prudential Financial: Moving to a virtual environment

With green standards well established, this financial firm, ranked No. 11, turns to mobile devices, e-faxing and more.

When Mary O'Malley became Prudential's environmental task force chairperson in 2007, she found that the company's IT department was already focused on being green.

"A lot of their work was focusing on facilities, renewable energy investments and employee volunteer efforts around conservation and stewardship," says O'Malley, vice president of local initiatives at Prudential Financial.

Prudential's technology folks have accomplished much more since then, and in the past year, IT has continued to lead projects that yield green benefits.

For example, IT is working to virtualize the company's data centers, shifting approximately 1,000 servers into a virtual environment last year. Prudential officials expect more servers to be virtualized as the project moves ahead.

IT has also focused on using alternative energy sources for its data centers. It is working with the facilities team to install solar panels to provide some of the power needed to run its Roseland, N.J., data center, a project that is expected to be completed this year.

Meanwhile, IT has spread the word about sustainability throughout the organization. Employees have responded by significantly reducing the amount of paper they use for printing.

"We've been pushing toward a paperless world," says Jeff Harrington, a vice president in the IT group. He says IT has provided alternatives, such as e-fax systems and printing applications that help users find ways to minimize their page count when they do need to print.

In addition, IT has helped employees take advantage of electronic tools when communicating with one another and with customers, O'Malley says.

Harrington says additional IT efforts to reduce the use of power and other resources include expanding the deployment of mobile devices, providing support for telecommuting and investing in telecommunications equipment.

Michael Mandelbaum, also a vice president in the IT group, points to IT's deployment of cart-based videoconferencing equipment that can be moved from room to room. The introduction of these mobile units has led to an increase in the use of videoconferencing for meetings because employees have found that using the carts is easier than booking meetings in specially equipped conference rooms.

Mandelbaum says the IT team focuses on delivering the technology that people need to do their jobs, while at the same time meeting Prudential's fiscal goals and green objectives. That's key to getting support for green IT, he says.

"You have to base decisions on economics and functionality to be green," says Mandelbaum. "That's how we approach everything, which means we can continue to do better because we can point to a track record of serving the shareholders while serving the broader community through sustainability."

Next: No. 12: JM Family eliminates more than 1,400 servers

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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