Wednesday, 21 September 2011

ICT sustainability initiatives slowed by ‘hidden’ power bills

Fujitsu Fujitsu in Australia has published a second ‘ICT Sustainability: The Global Benchmark Report’ analysing the extent of green ICT maturity across the globe. The headline finding of the report is that lack of visibility of energy bills has slowed the impetus of sustainability initiatives.

The research is based on 1,000 responses to 80 questions in an online survey about ICT Sustainability policies, behaviour and technologies. The respondents were CIOs and ICT managers in large IT-using organisations across industry sectors in Australia, Canada, China, India, New Zealand, UK and the USA.

The overall ICT Sustainability Index (ICTSx) measured by the research - across all countries and all industry sectors – has declined slightly since the first report. It is down from 56.4 to 54.3 (out of a 100), indicating that organisations may be losing their focus on ICT energy efficiency and existing projects have stalled.

The cause is put down to the fact that the majority of respondents were not aware of how much power ICT consumes. Only one in seven ICT departments include the cost of ICT’s power consumption in their budgets. Performance was significantly higher for the small proportion (less than 15%) who were responsible for ICT-specific power consumption – mostly larger companies.

11-09-21 Fujitsu Sustainability Index report

The best performing country of the seven surveyed turned out to be Canada, with an ICT Sustainability Index of 60.3. Canada, the UK (58.3) and the USA (56.0) are above average, while Australia, New Zealand, India and China perform below the average. The ICT/Communications/Media sector is the leading industry at 58.4 and Manufacturing the lowest at 51.2 - the relative scores between industry sectors are generally consistent between countries.

There’s a lot more detail in the report, which is available for free download from here.

 

It’s disappointing that ICT operations still aren’t responsible for their power use. As Alison Rowe, Fujitsu’s Global Executive Director Sustainability, said: “Until this data can be quantified, change cannot be measured and successes cannot be recognised.”

It reinforces the view that much of the effort to date by IT departments to address energy use and carbon emissions is primarily cherry-picking the easy options and achieving quick, one-off wins. For example, installing PC power management is not something that you need to think about, given the very rapid pay-back in power costs. Similarly, server virtualisation brings with it flexibility, cost savings and makes better use of data centre capacity – you don’t need to measure the power to see the benefits.

But employing these measures alone is short-sighted. Reducing ICT emissions (and hence saving energy and cost) is going to be a long-term process that will demand greater attention as time goes on. To really track progress you need to know where you’re starting from and what the energy savings options are.

The problem is that in the current financial climate it’s the quick wins that get the funding. To make further inroads and establish a path for longer-term savings needs more management thought and perhaps a little initial investment. It seems that at the moment that’s not happening.

© The Green IT Review

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