IT leaders share green-tech predictions for 2008

Green tech has flourished in the past year as vendors and customers alike have invested plenty of resources in making their products and practices more energy efficient, less wasteful, and eco-friendlier.

But is this sustainable-tech trend a mere green flash in the pan? Hardly. The flourishing world of green technology is driven by true need. Companies are running out of space and power in their datacentres, not to mention struggling with high energy costs. Business leaders, politicians, and consumers alike are becoming increasingly concerned about their impact on the environment.

Still, one wonders what crop of green-tech changes the year 2008 will yield. What follows are some abridged predictions from some IT experts out there who've been immersed in sustainable tech this past year and have a keen eye on the future. I've also added some predictions of my own. Predictions are listed in alphabetical order by last name; no favoritism here.

Bogomil Balkansky, senior director, product marketing, VMwareWebsite: VMware Energy Savings page

With constantly increasing computing demands and rising energy costs, energy conservation in the datacentre will continue to be a very hot topic (no pun intended) in 2008. Customers will continue to right-size and optimise their IT infrastructure driven by the economic and social responsibility imperative to save energy, but we also expect to see a new trend: datacentre energy efficiency incentives or regulations from different levels of government around the world. IT vendors will respond to this groundswell by ramping up investments in technologies that will help reduce the carbon footprint of the datacentre.

Drew Clark, co-founder and director of strategy, IBM Venture Capital Group
Website: Venture Capital Group

1. In 2008, global interest in green tech will continue to grow as competitive players emerge in unexpected geographies outside the United States. Beyond investment in alternative energy, there will be a great demand for technologies that allow energy consumers (businesses and homeowners) and producers (utilities) to monitor, manage, distribute and use energy more efficiently.

2. The greening of the datacentre will continue to be a top priority for corporations, as the cost of simply powering the centre begins to exceed the cost of the servers and devices in the datacentre. Key drivers to help reduce the overall carbon footprint and run more efficient centres will include intelligent sensors and advanced analytics to monitor and improve equipment utilisation, reducing downtime and providing comprehensive operational visibility.

Tom Clark, chair, SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) Green Storage Initiative and principal engineer, BrocadeWebsite: Brocade greening the datacenter

1. In 2008 there will be an increasing demand for consultants and vendors to help customers re-architect their data processing and storage operations to minimise the power footprint and maximise productivity by doing more with less. Server virtualisation is an obvious candidate for achieving more productivity on less hardware, and storage virtualisation will also help achieve maximum utilisation of assets without constantly deploying more energy consuming platforms to accommodate storage growth.

2. Just as energy costs are becoming a major portion of datacentre operational expense, energy management will start to become an integral part of data management in 2008. As a datacentre administrator, I would want to monitor not only my processing efficiency and storage utilisation but also the energy consumption and heat dissipation of all the major components of my IT infrastructure. We already have the framework for this in the SNIA Storage Management Initiative (SMI-S) for managing heterogeneous environments. Tapping into energy statistics provided by disparate hardware platforms (servers, SAN fabrics, storage, tape, etc.) could give administrators the ability to monitor the overall power efficiency of their operations. These are the specific types of metrics that feed into broader datacentre energy metrics a la The Green Grid.

3. The consciousness-raising around green datacentres has been accompanied by some cynicism in the trade press ("Vendors are just trying to sell more stuff"), but the subjective motivations of any particular vendor are really irrelevant. This is not a solution seeking a problem; this is, in fact, a very real problem that will continue to worsen in 2008 and every year beyond. I think we'll see some very dramatic and perhaps unfortunate initial case studies of large datacentres that failed to react quickly enough to what is actually a pending crisis of global proportions.

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