Tuesday, 21 April 2009

SAP launches new community to support sustainability solution development

A key theme in SAP's third-annual Virtualisation Week event, which is currently underway in Palo Alto, is that virtualisation is becoming one piece of a much larger puzzle related to sustainability and Green IT. Consequently, SAP and some key members of its ecosystem have announced a new community focused on facilitating Green IT collaboration and solution creation. SAP sees this as part of its long-term strategic focus on sustainability, which includes the company's own operations as well as developing business process and IT solutions that help customers operate in a more sustainable way.

The new Green IT community will help the company drive sustainability research and development initiatives with partners and customers. Founding members include: Brown-Forman Corporation, Citrix, Colgate, EMC, F5, Fujitsu, HP, Intel, Network Appliance Inc., Novell, Sun Microsystems, T-Systems and VMware.

SAP will continue to promote optimisation technologies like virtualisation together with its partners and offer relevant services, such as system landscape optimisation, which help customers maximize the use of their computing resources. The community will collaborate in a dedicated online environment hosted by SAP to exchange ideas, discuss industry trends and customer needs, and provide guidance on future product development and co-innovation opportunities.

The above is edited from the SAP press release - regular readers will know that I have been sceptical about SAP's green efforts in the past. In a post only a few weeks ago, (when the company launched its strategic focus on sustainability), I pointed out that it produced its first sustainability report only last year and whilst it has been responding to the CDP annual request for information since 2004, only on the basis that the responses are not published, which rather defeats the object.

In terms of providing solutions to the market, my impression, from talking to the company last year, was that it was playing a wait-and-see game. The SAP claimed to understand what the market needed, in terms of carbon counting and other sustainability functionality, but was waiting until it could see clear demand before investing in the effort. Not the attitude of a market innovator.

The fact that the company is now so enthusiastic about sustainability is obviously a good thing. It has enormous influence in enterprise solutions and can have a major impact, particularly working through its extensive ecosystem. My concern is that the press release still starts from a long way behind the curve. To say that "virtualisation is becoming one piece of a much larger puzzle related to sustainability and Green IT" is to state what was obvious a long time ago. To only mention SAP's contribution in terms of "system landscape optimisation, which help customers maximize the use of their computing resources" seems to be ignoring SAP's pre-eminent position in enterprise solutions and the work that can be done there.

But what's most disappointing is that having started down this road later than most major IT players, SAP insists on steering its own course. The community will "exchange ideas, discuss industry trends and customer needs, and provide guidance on future product development and co-innovation opportunities", which is something that the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and The Green Grid have been doing for some time - SAP does not appear to be a member of either.

We are only really going to conquer climate change if we pull together, as countries, industries and people. SAP's contribution would be much more worthwhile as part of broader industry collaboration, rather than potentially confusing the market with its own initiatives, guidance and standards.



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