4 category approach to Green the Data Center

WSJ has a guest article by Robert Plant.

— Dr. Plant is an associate professor in the department of computer information systems at the University of Miami's School of Business Administration

How Green Should My Tech Be?

To decide whether an eco-friendly IT idea makes sense, first place it in one of four categories


In these tough economic times, green initiatives can be a hard sell. Companies don't want to take a gamble on pricey projects that lie outside their core mission. Yet lots of eco-friendly ideas promise to pay for themselves—and then some—by slashing costs and boosting efficiency.

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How should companies approach the problem? To find out, we looked at green initiatives in one critical section of businesses, the corporate data center, and placed potential projects into four categories. At one end of the spectrum are obviously useful ideas that are simple and inexpensive. At the other end are expensive distractions that should be avoided at all costs. By figuring out which category an idea fits into, companies can better weigh the risk and potential return.

The caveat that starts out is this system is dependent on the judgment by the CIO.

One caveat. This system—based on an earlier model developed in collaboration with Prof. Leslie Willcocks from the London School of Economics—relies heavily on the judgment of a company's chief information officer. We assume the CIO is closely monitoring promising technologies and can evaluate their possible impact on the business.

The four categories are.

Here are the four categories.

No-Brainers. In these cases, the green technology is a commodity. It not only cuts power use and emissions—thereby fulfilling its green mission—it's easy and cheap to obtain and implement. The bottom line: Companies should pursue these projects as soon as possible.

Promising but Pricey. Here, the green technology is clearly useful but isn't yet popular enough to be a commodity.

Business Opportunities. In some cases, green tech initiatives have the potential to win new business. One

Distractions. When evaluating green projects, the vast majority of companies shouldn't try to keep up with industry titans.