Going green

High regional commercial energy costs and a developing ‘green’ conscience is driving a slow, but steady uptake of green IT initiatives in the Middle East.

Tags: Dell CorporationGulf Business MachinesR&M Middle EastRuckus Wireless (www.ruckuswireless.com/)Xerox Corporation
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Going green
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By  Georgina Enzer Published  September 21, 2013

High regional commercial energy costs and a developing ‘green’ conscience is driving a slow, but steady uptake of green IT initiatives in the Middle East.

While green IT is an important consideration for companies in the US and Europe, the concept is still in its infancy in the UAE and Middle East region, with the only real green IT champions being the telecoms companies and enterprises with their head offices in the US or Europe, such as Dell and R&M.

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

In the Middle East, the GCC is the most focused region in its approach to promoting sustainable and green practices, according to Gulf Business Machines.

“Many countries in the GCC are trying to establish themselves as international centres; which is one of the reason they are focusing on renewable energy and sustainability. Solar energy, for example, is set to emerge as one of the region’s main energy sources in the next few years as large investments are being made in this sector. Governments and manufactures in the region have matured in the past few years while regional companies have started to comply and add green products and solutions requirements to their evaluation criteria,” states Hani Nofal, director of Intelligent Network Solutions at GBM.

With the cost of commercial power causing regional businesses severe headaches, the energy saving side of green IT should be coming into sharp focus for most medium to large size regional enterprises. Nader Baghdadi, Middle East regional director at Ruckus Wireless, says he expects green IT and sustainability to rank in the CIO’s top five concerns within the next two years.

“Generally speaking, applying a green approach to technology will cut costs,” he says. “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 programs 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,” says Salil Dighe, managing director at Dubai-based data management specialist Meta Byte Technologies.

Power aware

Some local businesses have developed a unique way to make the IT department accountable for the power they use. Traditionally the company’s facilities department paid the power bill, now some large enterprises are asking each individual department to pay their own power bills to force them to think more about power consumption and how to reduce energy costs, according to Dell.

“A few local customers that are green savvy have moved the cost of power to each of the different departments. Marketing pays their power, IT pays their power. Now that IT are paying the cost of electricity, they have realised how large it is and they are looking at saving power. A lot of customers that are paying the electricity bill have started using the lower power CPUs, sacrificing slightly on the performance of the CPU and making it up in other areas, such as adding a bit to the memory and upgrading the network. By doing this you will get similar performance that is not so power hungry,” explains Basil Ayass, marketing director Dell Middle East.

With the shift to IT paying their own electricity, Dell has seen IT start to ask, as part of their procurement process, for with power consumption estimates of the IT hardware they are purchasing before they buy because they know their power budget and what they can spend on electricity.

“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 Dan Smith, head of integrated marketing for the Middle East and Africa at printer and copier vendor Xerox.

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