Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Getting green in ICT

One of the great things about this conference is the sheer variety of policy issues being discussed. This morning I attended a session by John Barr of the 451 Group, a technology analyst organisation. Barr was sharing recently learned lessons on ICT for a Green World.

Eco-IT, Barr said, involves both ecology and economics. Apparently (and this raised a laugh), “many people today are not driven by trying to save the planet, but they do like to save money.” Barr suggested this will eventually change due to tax reforms, but right now, in 2009, the global economic crisis has reared its head, and “people are more interested in saving money today than they were a few years ago.”

But take a look at these stats:
- Energy costs have jumped 150% in just a few years.
- The cost of powering and cooling servers is now greater than the cost of purchasing the equipment.

In the face of figures like this, green IT interest is on the increase.

Energy efficiency is becoming a serious limitation to progress: “People can no longer sit back and think that things are going to go faster and get better and they won't have to do anything,” says Barr. Keeping up with Moore's Law, Barr says, is going to take a greater understanding of parallel processing and the energy efficiencies it can bring.

So what are Barr's Big Three for using ICT to green our world?
1) Technology and practices that enable ICT to consume less energy and carbon
2) ICT that enables business to consume less energy and carbon
3) Technology for reporting or monetizing the reduced use of energy and carbon.

The timeline for this is from now to us around ten years to get our green act together and save a heap of cash and maintain progress in the ICT sector. Oh, and we get to do our bit to save the planet too.

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