New Year, New Commitment to Green IT Jobs

I’d just about given up banging the drum for Green IT once
and for all this year when I had a fascinating conversation with an
acquaintance of mine who is about to bet his life savings – plus millions of
dollars from investors – on a new solar energy business, the scope of which is
breathtaking. Because it’s in pre-launch mode I can’t really describe it, but
what I couldn’t help but notice was that all my friend kept talking about was
money, money and more money – not the environment, the planet, or carbon
levels.

New Year, New Commitment to Green IT JobsThat’s what got me thinking, and that’s
why I’ve written about it twice before, here
and here.
Green IT is not a crunchy Marxist plot. It’s a bottom-line money saver than can
make heroes out of IT departments that successfully institute its basic
principles. This is a very hot (pun intended) sector today. Just watch as
the job listings for data center design and network management start to include
words like “power management skills” and “sustainable strategies.”

The truth is, being a Green IT guru doesn’t have to be
terribly challenging. The basics for any green upgrade, which are laid out in this
white paper
, are pretty simple: Get a computer room cooling efficiency
health check, seal the computer room envelope and the raised floor, improve the
above-the-floor airflow management, refresh your servers when you can,
virtualize them, and turn up the heat in the server room. I Google runs its server farms at a rather warm 80 degrees, about 10 degrees
warmer than I would have guessed.

If you really want to make some waves in Green IT, try suggesting that departments and employees are held to account not just for
the space they take up but also for the power they consume. Think of it as an internal carbon tax. Imagine how many department heads would be
running around the office telling people to turn off their lights if they knew
their bottom line was being affected.

The other big Green IT career trend, of course, is in cloud
computing implementations. I flipped through this
white paper
by Accenture on behalf of Microsoft, and learned that companies
can save anywhere from 30 to 90 percent of their energy use and emissions by
moving IT operations to cloud computing infrastructures. (Microsoft suggests
you consult them, of course.) If you were the person who showed up at the CFO’s
office to report that you had just cut energy costs by that much, you’d
probably be in line for at least a promotion.

It’s interesting to note that many big tech companies
practice what they preach when it comes to Green IT, and we can all learn from
them. Greenpeace maintains a Cool
IT Leaderboard
that’s almost always topped by networking giant
Cisco, which is “making IT climate solutions an increasingly core part of
its busines’s strategy. (The company offers some Green IT coaching here.)
It’s followed by Ericsson, Fujitsu, Google, and IBM.

You’ll also find a burgeoning market for Green IT
certifications that help re-orient IT careers in this new direction. CompTIA’s
Strata – Green IT certificate, for example, covers the ability to develop,
deploy and calculate true ROI for Green initiatives; knowledge of
cost-cutting power management and IT virtualization techniques; understanding
of environmentally sound waste disposal; and an awareness of global
organizations mandating standards and regulations.

Businesses these days are still very much in that painful
“do more with less” mode, and I won’t predict when that will end – if
ever. Green IT fits right in, helping businesses do more work while using less
equipment and energy. Who wouldn’t want to turn their business at least a
little green?

– Don Willmott

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