IT and global warming

* How IT can help organizations be green or save green

Is global warming caused by us or something else? Those who believe in human-caused global warming (Camp A) point to increasing greenhouse gases, our excessive carbon footprint, use of fossil fuels and the like as evidence to support their position. Those who believe in natural global warming (Camp B) point to the close link between solar activity and temperatures on earth, the growing body of evidence that shows greenhouse gases are actually the result of global warming and not its cause, and the fact that global warming started a few centuries before the Industrial Revolution.

From an IT perspective, however, it doesn’t matter which “green” argument you believe: if you’re in Camp A, your goal might be to use technology to reduce your carbon footprint and hope to reduce global warming. If you’re in Camp B, your goal might be to use technology to reduce costs for your company. Either way, your actions will be identical, only the motives will be different.

Here are just two examples of how IT can help organizations be green or save green:

* Virtualization: Novell PlateSpin has a nice cost calculator on its Web site that shows that 50 physical servers (10% average processor utilization, 750 watts per server, 10 cents per kilowatt) can be converted to 10 physical servers, each running five virtual machines. The cost savings will be $52,560 per year.

* Videoconferencing: This is an important component for some unified communications systems and one that can significantly reduce travel costs. For example, at Interop last week I saw a demonstration of a high definition videoconferencing system from LifeSize that provides excellent performance at just 1Mbps. Plus, the cost of a base system is just $5,000 per site. If a business trip costs $1,000 in airfare, hotel, rental car, meals, etc., then a system like this could pay for itself in just five business trips that were replaced by videoconferencing, not to mention the productivity savings for travelers.

The bottom line is that unified communications and other technologies can have a dramatic and positive impact on your bottom line and are well worth the effort to investigate.

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