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IT buyers won't sacrifice performance to help environment, study finds

63% won't sacrifice server performance to lower carbon emissions

By , Network World
June 30, 2008 12:10 AM ET

Network World - Green is in, right? Maybe, but a large number of IT shops aren't willing to sacrifice performance even if it would help the environment, according to a new survey.

Hosting provider Rackspace surveyed 3,000 customers this year and last year, and found some results suggesting businesses are losing interest in green technology.

Sixty-three percent of customers this year said they are not willing to sacrifice any server performance to lower carbon emissions. (Compare server products.) Last year, only 41% of Rackspace customers were unwilling to sacrifice performance to reduce global warming emissions.

In last year's survey, 8% of customers were not willing to pay a premium for green products and services, such as renewable energy, recycling, conservation or carbon offsets. This year, 30% were not willing to pay a premium for such environmentally friendly products.

In addition, although last year more than half of respondents said they would pay 5% to 10% more for services from a "green" vendor, only 41% were willing to do so this year.

Eleven percent of businesses said they are not concerned about their impact on the environment -- and doubt they ever will be.

Rackspace CTO John Engates was surprised by how many people aren't willing to sacrifice any server performance for environmental gains. What wasn't surprising, he says, is that people seem less willing to pay premiums for green services this year.

"Last year, people were willing to make some sacrifices and pay a little more," Engates says. "Today, with the economic times and the cost of energy and fuel, green has taken a back seat," he says.

That might seem short-sighted, given that environmentally friendly technologies theoretically should help customers save money by improving energy efficiency. The results may be skewed by Rackspace's customers, most of whom aren't running their own data centers. Rackspace hasn't upped its prices to reflect the higher cost of energy, Engates notes.

Engates suspects, however, there might be a similar unwillingness to adopt green technologies among people who run their own data centers, because IT managers typically aren't responsible for energy costs.

"A lot of times, people who make the decisions about what equipment to purchase are not the same who pay the energy bill," Engates says. "If the price were transparent all the way through the system, much like gasoline is, they might consider paying more for greener technology."

Rackspace's survey targeted 3,000 of the company's highest-paying customers, which range from small outfits that rent a half-dozen servers to divisions of Fortune 500 companies. Most customers are using Rackspace servers to power Web sites.

Rackspace conducted the survey via e-mail primarily to figure out what types of products customers want.

Another recent survey, conducted by BPM Forum, found that 86% out of the 150 IT pros it surveyed are concerned about their impact on the environment, but only 41% had any specific green plans in place.

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