Embracing green IT

It is probably too soon to say that green IT is top of the CIO’s agenda in the Middle East region.

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Embracing green IT
By  Piers Ford Published  May 15, 2013

It is probably too soon to say that green IT is top of the CIO’s agenda in the Middle East region. How can channel partners recommend sustainable technology to customers grappling to reduce energy and power costs? Piers Ford investigates.

The enterprise focus remains firmly on extracting the maximum value to the business from any investment in technology.

But there are signs across the Middle East region that buying sustainable IT kit and making greater use of reduced infrastructure solutions such as wireless networks and virtualised environments is increasingly recognised as a financially preferable strategy.

For the channel, this means there is an opportunity to recommend green, sustainable IT at every level from printers and desktop devices right up through the network and into the data centre.

“Sustainability and green technologies are increasingly high priority topics for CIOs worldwide,” said Mathias Militzer, general manager at printer specialist Lexmark International, Middle East and Africa.

“In the Middle East, there is an increased drive towards sustainability and responsible consumption, especially with the governments emphasising the need for harnessing more green technologies in the drive towards development. This will impact the market for sustainable products favourably over the next few years.”

Nader Baghdadi, Middle East regional director at Ruckus Wireless, said he expects green IT and sustainability to rank in the CIO’s top five concerns within the next two years in the region.

“Generally speaking, applying a green approach to technology will cut costs,” he said. “But the Middle East still doesn’t top the list compared with the US and other parts of the world, and this is primarily because of the lack of awareness programmes in the region.”

If the Middle East lags behind the West in adapting to a greener IT model, it is catching up fast, driven in part by broader technology trends such as virtualisation and cloud computing, which encourage a leaner approach to IT infrastructure.

“With a new set of technologies setting their foot in the region, many government-backed agencies and initiatives are in place to promote sustainability, energy efficiency and green IT in both public and private enterprises in the region,” said Salil Dighe, managing director at Dubai-based data management specialist Meta Byte Technologies.

“Qatar National Vision 2030, The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, and Green Economy initiatives by Dubai are a few examples of how governments are trying to create a path towards a more sustainable environment and carbon-neutral figures.”

At printer and copier vendor Xerox, head of integrated marketing for the Middle East and Africa Dan Smith said the green drive is rapidly moving to centre stage. Some organisations are responding to their own customers’ concerns about sustainability.

“For the UAE and the region as a whole, being environmentally friendly is considered as a new trend, which is picking up pace as greater awareness of the benefits and ease of realising a greener and more sustainable environment becomes commonplace,” said Smith.

“With the recent initiatives and continuous support and guidelines introduced by the UAE Government to educate and create awareness on green buildings/communities and sustainability, we are seeing more demand for greener products and policies across different sectors.”

Aside from the data centre and the desktop, the enterprise communications strategy is an increasingly popular target for green IT. Technology that enables home working and video conferencing, for example, provides a viable platform for reducing a business’s carbon footprint through reduced travel.

“In the short-term, greener products are usually more efficient, of a higher standard and don’t cost more than less green products,” said Roch Muraine, director strategic solutions for Middle East & Africa at Alcatel-Lucent, Enterprise, which specialises in eco-sustainable ICT networks, applications and devices.

“In the mid and long term, the cost of power for a data centre is so high that you could save 30 to 40% of your CAPEX investments.”

“Implementing a green infrastructure begins with carefully analysing the benefits associated with investing in the process,” agreed Baghdadi at Ruckus. “This includes examining the policies at hand as well as evaluating the energy use. This will enable CIOs to cut down infrastructure costs and will be a positive move towards a greener infrastructure, leading to a return on investment as costs are cut down.”

At Lexmark, Militzer acknowledged that the initial costs of setting up green infrastructure and implementing changes in workflow processes might be considerable, but the long-term benefits are now sufficiently well understood.

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