Necessity for sustainability

Enterprises must act to make their networks more environmentally friendly, but building out a green network is not without its challenges

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Necessity for sustainability According to Ruckus’ Hockaday, remote and wireless working can do plenty of good when it comes to reducing on power costs and corporate-wide carbon emissions.
By  Tom Paye Published  August 10, 2014

Earlier this year, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) report claimed that global warming is an irrefutable fact, and that scientists are 95% sure that human influence has been the dominant cause since the mid-20th century. Whether some are willing to admit it or not, the fact is that ‘going green’ has been pushed up the corporate agenda as the realisation has set in that things really do need to change.

In the Middle East, which boasts some of the highest carbon emissions per capita anywhere in the world, it would seem that organisations are failing to take the UN’s latest findings to heart — on the surface, at least. However, despite the apparently lax attitude towards greener technologies in this region, calls to find more environmentally friendly ways of doing things are growing louder and louder. And, interestingly enough, many of them are coming from the enterprise technology world.

With responsibility for global warming now lying squarely with the human race, many believe that enterprises should adopt greener solutions that can lower their carbon emissions. This could be anything from reducing power consumption within the data centre to reducing the amount of paper used by the company. Some even say that the adoption of such initiatives will become the norm as we move further into the 20th century. Hesham El Komy, regional marketing manager at Brocade, believes that, regardless of enterprises being in the Middle East or not, ‘going green’ is simply no longer an option.

“It has become inevitable and is part of new business landscape in the 21st century. Organisations are being directed, through legislation, public relations and economic factors, to increase the efficiency and environmental friendliness of their operations, and within this scenario enterprises are being pushed towards utilising new and advanced technologies in data centre networks,” he says.

The message is beginning to hit home for both regional government bodies and for enterprises looking to increase their green credentials. Government regulations and initiatives have triggered an interest in green building, with Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah City clean energy project being prime examples of the region’s will to become more environmentally friendly. And such initiatives, while still in their infancy, are having a trickle-down effect on the wider business environment in the Middle East.

“Enterprises in the Middle East have come a long way in recent years when it comes to embracing greener policies. This is due in large part to government regulations and initiatives which have triggered future green building,” says Roger Hockaday, EMEA director of marketing at Ruckus Wireless.

The current state
Unfortunately, positive news of green initiatives does not change the fact that, today, enterprises on the ground are struggling to put their green plans into action. At the moment, the consensus seems to be that cost takes precedence over environmental impact, even if environmentally friendly solutions can actually save the business money in the long run. Experts say that, if a network can be built cheaply and it is ‘good enough’ to not cause any headaches over operational costs, it will always win out against an expensive green network.

“The recognition of the advantages of investing in these technologies is negated by the manner in which projects are contractually executed. Until there is a mechanism for green IT to be awarded a value factor, then cheapest and not most efficient will always win,” explains Charlie Bass, business development manager at Cannon Technologies Middle East.

The idea that high investment costs are a hindrance to green technology adoption is echoed by Niranjan Gidwani, deputy CEO at Eros Group. He adds that the investment is not only limited to simply buying the latest networking kit or low-power equipment — a green drive must be company-wide and encompass everything from paper consumption to carbon emissions caused by commuting or business trips. It is the network manager’s job to facilitate these initiatives, but, ultimately, Gidwani says that organisations need to invest a lot in the vision of a greener organisation.

“It takes great vision and a strong will and determination to build a green enterprise network. A green operation must go much beyond power consumption. Our environment fights battles on various fronts including paper consumption. These issues are required to be addressed by a green enterprise network,” he says.

That said, Gidwani asserts that many organisations are now at least tweaking their networks in order to make them more environmentally friendly, while a few others dealing with legacy systems are going in for a full overhaul, choosing green tech to replace the old kit. Indeed, with the green agenda becoming more important at every level of the value chain, vendors are also keen to showcase their green credentials, meaning more environmentally friendly products are being brought to market. The good news, then, is that organisations investing in new implementations are actually going greener without directly deciding on doing it — small environmental gains can be had simply by upgrading old kit.

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