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6 Predictions for Green IT in 2012

Improving the efficiency of IT tops the list for enterprises as they go into 2012, according to Craig Symons, the principal analyst at Forrester Research. Symons wrote, in his 2012 IT Budget Planning Guide for CIOs: "While 2011 started with a more robust IT spending environment, many organizations began to pull back midyear, and 2012 plans are expected to be more conservative given the high degree of uncertainty. [...] Efficiency and consolidation are top IT priorities"

Despite this, worldwide IT spending is set to reach $1.8 trillion in 2012 (6.9 percent growth), according to research firm IDC, so how should CIOs prepare for an Efficient 2012? Here are some predictions for the year ahead.

1. Greenwashing is dead.

Greenwashing has been hung out to dry by efficient IT solutions that actually measure, report and save energy, CO2 consumption and associated costs. The IT market has reached a level of maturity that means it is no longer possible to market a solution as a green IT solution when it isn't really a green IT solution without being pretty quickly found out.

There is a distinct difference between solutions that actually save energy and those that say they do, and that's found in the accuracy of the reporting that's built into the tool (if at all).

2012 will see the emergence of Efficient IT, not only as a bona fide market segment but also as an emerging trend. The trillions of dollars that are spent on IT each year are a millstone around the neck of every IT department in the world. CIOs realise that they need to reduce the amount of IT dollars spent on maintenance and hardware/ software energy consumption.

2. DCIM will come into its own in 2012.

Armed with the premise that effective use of such technology can reduce server energy consumption by up to 82 percent, data center managers have been investing heavily in virtualization technology. However, there's a catch: These savings are not a foregone conclusion and can only be realised if virtual servers are carefully managed. Otherwise, your virtual server environment could sprawl out of control and the potential for dwindling savings or increased spend is amplified.

Efficient running of a data center has been at the back of many server managers' minds as they worked to resolve the virtualization conundrum. The advent of Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) technology will help data center managers bring IT Efficiency into the equation.

To identify the true business value derived from each kilowatt of energy used you need the right tools that find unused servers which in turn, will inform your decision to decommission them with confidence. Useful Work analysis is being lauded by many as a viable alternative to PUE and a radical, new approach to application workload efficiency. This is worth looking into.

DCIM is a nascent space which will come into its own in 2012. In fact, analysts at the 451 Group predict that the DCIM market is growing and will multiply by a factor of five between now and 2015 . Not surprising in the age of austerity where cost optimization is key, since DCIM technology is said to reduce operating expenses by as much as 20 percent.

3. Upgrading operating systems will only be the first step to greater PC energy savings.

Windows power schemes -- yes, even those expected in Windows 8 -- are not enough. One of the main focal points of Windows 8 is reduced power consumption and this is commendable. However, scheduled, intelligent power downs have proven to be much more effective than built-in power schemes. Most energy -- and related cost savings - will be achieved from hardware efficiency.

There are hundreds of million PCs out there that consume vast amounts of energy. The challenge is compounded by the fact that, given the choice, almost half of end users turn off power-scheme-based sleep timers because they get in the way of their working day.

What's more, when they are enabled, built-in power scheme sleep timers are only partially effective at saving energy and therefore cost. Many PCs do not go to sleep when they should (sleeplessness) and some wake up when they shouldn't (spurious wakeups), with the result that only 20 percent of PCs using Windows sleep timers actually go to sleep and stay that way overnight and on weekends.

Most of these PCs wouldn't actually benefit from an Operating System upgrade -- they simply need to be switched off when they are not in use. An estimated 50 percent of PCs are left on overnight and on weekends. A one night shut down of the world's 1 billion corporate PCs would save enough energy to power the Empire State Building for 30 years.

4. Cloud initiatives will be used as a benchmark for IT Efficiency.

IDC predicts that cloud services spending will exceed $36 billion, growing four times the industry rate in 2012. The analyst firm also predicts that Systems Management software for Cloud will grow as a power position, with 62 percent growth in 2012.

Cloud initiatives have taken off the dynamic nature of 'as a service' technology and the potential cost savings available. Cloud also brings with it a disruptive change to technology service provisioning and economics; if you can buy a service from a cloud provider that's significantly cheaper, and potentially better, internal IT departments will face pressure from the business to match the price.

Businesses should use the potential of cloud as a benchmark for IT Efficiency. Equally, they should prepare for cloud by making their IT infrastructure more efficient, automated and agile and their applications more 'elastic' and capable of handling higher transaction volumes; only then will the benefits of cloud be realized.

5. PC power management and the mobile revolution.

Forrester predicts that the number of intelligent communicating devices on the network will soon outnumber traditional IT devices. However, before focusing on the mobile revolution, CIOs must ensure that they are making as many savings (in terms of cost, energy, CO2) from their estate of PCs. Automatically powering these down means that CIOs can expect savings of around $36 per PC per year. Failing to do so means potentially facing an even bigger challenge in the future.

What's more, there's an exciting way to integrate mobile into your PC power management, which puts the user in the driving seat. Users can now wake up their PCs 'on the move'. This enables a user to take control of their working day before it has even begun by accessing and waking up a PC from anywhere at any time. PCs can be woken up using smartphone devices such as Apple's iPhone and RIM's Blackberry. This eliminates the need for users to wait for PCs to boot up in the morning and gives them additional incentives to power down at night.

6. Big Data, small bandwidth.

According to IDC, the "digital universe" will grow to 2.7ZB (yes, that's zetabytes!) in 2012, up 48 percent from 2011 and rocketing toward nearly 8ZB by 2015 . Big data will be the next essential capability. CIOs need to get to grips with the "big data" challenge -- both in terms of ever increasing data volumes and the amount of bandwidth that the challenge of 'big data' brings with it.

The challenge of big data is by no means small, but the bandwidth required can be. One of the best ways to prepare for this, while at the same time getting a quick return on investment and optimizing costs is to use a bandwidth optimisation technology.

Another way to address the big data challenge is to involve the user. Using an enterprise app store, users can install Office 2010 (Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote) or indeed schedule a migration to Windows 7 at a time when it suits them, without disrupting their daily workload. To avoid problems, the IT department maintains control of the number of deployments that are scheduled at any one time. Certain periods of time during the day can be blacked out to avoid high volumes of demand on the network. Full days can be blocked too to avoid clashes with IT maintenance on the company's network.

These are my six predictions for green IT in the coming year. What do you think the next 12 months will bring? Let us know in the comments below.

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