With an increasing global focus on energy efficiency and sustainability in 2011, this year should be a big year for Green IT. However, “going green” can mean many things to many people, so as more organizations “go green,” it is fitting that we take a closer look at what is in store during the year ahead from an IT perspective.
Based on my continued discussions with leading enterprises and influential energy leaders around the globe, I expect the following trends to disrupt and reshape the IT and business landscape in 2011:
As a Commodity
Some may think energy is already a commodity, but the increasing global demand for alternative energy and fuels, Smart Grids and green technologies foretells a rapidly approaching green energy revolution. It will transform the way the world views energy and energy management. As energy and utility organizations become more involved in carbon capture and sequestration research, as well as Smart Grid plans and rollouts to automate the monitoring and control of electrical distribution, we move closer to the true commoditization of the energy market.
U.S. Federal policies and international policies will place increasing focus on energy efficiency in 2011 to encourage more clean, renewable and sustainable energy development. Policymakers are realizing that effective energy efficiency initiatives offer high return on investment and can be best achieved through regulation rather than subsidy. Therefore, they will continue to push forward with aggressive reform proposals that tackle issues such as the reduction of CO2 emissions and cap and trade program in 2011.
In 2011, we’ll see even more utility companies offering financial incentive programs in a nationwide effort to enhance environmental stewardship and energy security. Many of these programs will be directed at enterprise organizations leveraging IT efficiency software solutions, energy-efficient computing equipment and virtualization in their datacenters.
Smart Grid Vision vs. Reality
Many organizations have become paralyzed by inaction as they wait for the full promise of the Smart Grid to take shape, banking on the Smart Grid to drive energy conservation and cost savings. Unfortunately, the Smart Grid of today is still a vision – it is not currently functional or even 100 percent defined. Instead of waiting, smart companies will find ways to take pragmatic steps in 2011 by leveraging information technology to revolutionize the production, transmission and consumption of electricity.
Cloud as a Benchmark
Cloud-based service adoption is widely expected to go mainstream this year and businesses will use the cloud as a benchmark for IT efficiency. Using the cloud to deliver systems and tools such as those that are most commonly used in office environments today – take email for example – is simple. This will change the way businesses procure IT; if you can buy a service from a cloud provider that’s significantly cheaper, and potentially better, internal IT departments will face pressure from the business to match the price.
Takes on Virtualization
Though the efficiency and cost-savings potential of virtualization is significant, waste is waste … even in a virtual environment. Enterprises increasingly embraced virtualization in 2010 – particularly in the form of server virtualization – but often the ease and low cost of spinning up a virtual server created a false sense of cost savings. In 2011, virtual server sprawl will become a growing challenge for organizations trying to harness the power, flexibility and savings of virtual environments. In the coming year, it will become increasingly important for IT executives to create a visual representation of virtual server sprawl to better control the problem, eliminate waste and realize the greatest possible benefit and ROI from their server virtualization initiatives.
Over the next 24 months, the migration to Windows 7 will continue to be the single largest IT expense for many organizations. Enterprises looking to reduce time and costs associated with planning and managing deployment will seek out ways to automate operating systems and software upgrades across their networks without IT involvement.
Requires Measurement Tools
In 2011, organizations will increasingly focus on improving IT efficiency enterprise-wide by seeking new ways to identify and reduce costs in hardware, software, energy and time. This renewed focus on creating an efficient IT infrastructure is increasing the demand for tools that can provide high-level, accurate views of power use and savings (from the PC to the data center) at-a-glance to help quantify ongoing sustainability efforts.
Proliferation of …
Inefficiency in IT
With the continued growth of enterprise technology comes inefficiency. The potential global savings from identifying and removing inefficiencies in IT adds up to billions of dollars each year in hardware, maintenance, management and energy savings. Given the economic and environmental issues we face today, there has never been a greater need to reduce inefficiencies. Forward-looking organizations will take actionable steps to implement power management policies, automate processes and improve IT efficiency across their organizations in 2011.
The proliferation and success of on-demand web stores such as Apple®’s App Store show us that IT-self service is has grown in popularity among users. Slow, manual and inconsistent delivery of software continues to have a huge impact on user productivity within organizations. 1E estimates that deploying user self-service tools to automate software requests could save organizations $8.6 billion in IT help desk costs alone in 2011. As organizations take a hard look at removing inefficiencies in IT enterprise-wide by automating processes to achieve enterprise-wide uniformity, many will seek out ways to empower users to locate and automatically install the software they need to do their jobs without help desk intervention.
Green Sector Jobs
As the industry matures, we’ll see more green-focused jobs emerge in the coming months. Additionally, as more organizations place renewed focus on sustainability initiatives, we will see enhanced, more senior-level leadership positions emerge. Energy managers of 2011 will be highly strategic with the ability to expertly counsel the C-suite and executive board on key financial decisions, including outsourcing energy management. The current role of the chief sustainability officer will also shift to one of increased responsibility and recognition, and will soon be viewed as one of the most integral roles in the modern enterprise.
As we enter a new year, many organizations worldwide are placing a renewed focus on “greening” their enterprises and reducing their carbon footprints. Unfortunately, the challenge may be too daunting for some, causing many professionals to be unsure where to begin and become paralyzed by inaction. This year, beyond developing long-term efficiency strategies, it is important that IT and Green executives begin to take actionable steps today to implement power management policies, automate processes and improve IT efficiency across their organizations. My advice: think big, but start small.
Written by Sumir Karayi, 1E
Sumir Karayi is the founder and CEO of 1E.