Microsoft Publishes Article - Sustainable Computing: Putting IT on a Diet

Microsoft's TechNet Magazine has started a series of columns on Sustainable Computing that will be a regular topic. To introduce the Green/environment sustainable topic to IT pros, there is an article Sustainable Computing: Putting IT on a Diet.

As the environment and energy consumption become topics of increasing attention, IT has been called out by many as a large energy consumer. And rightfully so. There are many problems throughout the IT environment—over provisioning, underutilized equipment, poor user practices and policies, inefficient hardware, and lack of hardware retirement policies, to name just a few.

Yet there are countless strategies for making IT more environmentally sensitive. This creates an excellent opportunity for you, as an IT professional, to drive change. Every organization needs a solid sustainable computing strategy and this, in turn, requires IT professionals with knowledge who are ready to lead and evangelize changes throughout the organization.

The topic is vast and constantly changing. And your strategy is something you should be thinking about every day. So we are kicking off this new online column to explore the issues, solutions, and strategies that make up environmental and sustainable computing. In fact, there's so much to discuss, we'll be publishing, for the time being, new columns every two weeks.

The Energy Diet

Data centers used 61 billion kWh of electricity in 2006. That represents 1.5 percent of all U.S. electricity consumption that year. More alarmingly, it is double the amount consumed by data centers just a few years earlier, in 2000. (See the March 2008 Fact Sheet on National Data Center Energy Efficiency Information Program available at energystar.gov/ia/partners/prod_development/downloads/NDCFactSheet.pdf for more information.)

If current trend continue, energy consumed by data centers can be expected to grow by 12 percent per year. And the problem reaches beyond the data center. Desktops, laptops, and mobile devices are all large energy consumers, but their exact numbers are hard to grasp as devices are scattered around offices.

With Web services becoming increasingly common and the proliferation of mobile devices growing at exponential rates, companies, organizations, and governments around the globe are looking at how we can reduce consumption and put IT on an energy diet, such as expanding initiatives like the Energy Star program from desktops to severs as well.

Government agencies, for example, are looking into how to regulate energy use. As one of the largest energy consumers, IT is the least regulated. So don't be surprised when the government implements future requirements for sustainability and efficiency reporting.

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The "Diet" analogy is a fun one and I've received good feedback on this as a method to discuss Green IT ideas. I'll be using this method more, as I was the writer for this article.