The Green Pall

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It reminds me of the phenomenon about two years ago, when utility computing (a.k.a. "autonomic computing" or "on-demand computing") was the buzzphrase du jour. IT vendors were recasting their product and marketing strategies around it, and start-ups were forming to position themselves as dedicated utility-computing resources.

One of those start-ups was Cassatt, a company created by Bill Coleman, who had previously co-founded BEA Systems. Cassatt's initial flagship product was a dynamic resource provisioning tool called Collage, and Coleman hawked it as a utility computing godsend.

What's especially interesting is that if you go to Cassatt's Web site today, you'll find no reference to Collage, and "utility computing" is upstaged by "active power management" and the proclamation that "Cassatt software makes data centers more efficient -- and more green." Click on the Products tab, and you're taken to a page that depicts the greening of a potted shrub.

I met with Coleman last November, and I asked him about the green repositioning. "Was there some sort of brainstorming session at Cassatt that said, 'This green thing is all the buzz; maybe we should move our pitch around that'?" I asked. "Was that the way it worked?"

Coleman's response was as refreshing as a spring rain. "Ultimately," he said, "I'd say that is the way it worked."

Of course it is. But I don't know of many CEOs who would have been as gutsy and honest in acknowledging it.

The zealous usurpation of the green moniker by marketers, combined with visions of priority-challenged enviro-nannies that the label often conjures, is creating a backlash that's stealing attention from the energy issue.

That has to change. Next week, when we release our first annual special report "Computerworld's Top 12 Green-IT Companies," you'll see why.

Don Tennant is editorial director of Computerworld and InfoWorld. Contact him at, and visit his blog at

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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