the reach and richness of green IT

A survey of CIOs and IT managers at 143 organizations from Australia, New Zealand and the United States finds that some elements of green IT practices are taking off at companies of all sizes, but as a whole there is significant room for improvement.

The report, "Green IT Diffusion, an International Comparison," was developed by three students at the School of Business Information Technology, part of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. The students, Alemayehu Molla, Siddhi Pittayachawan and Brian Corbitt, published the report yesterday on the school's Green IT Observatory. It surveys companies about how they think about green IT issues, which of the many practices in the universe of green IT have been adopted by businesses, and the reasons behind or obstacles to adopting green IT practices.

The results are a mixed bag: while most companies are aware of the issues driving green IT practices and even taking some steps down the path to environmentally and economically friendly computing practices, there remains significant gaps in adoption.

The report's authors seek to determine the extent to which green IT has penetrated business consciousness in two ways: Green IT Reach and Green IT Rich. The reach of green IT is defined as the amount to which a company factors in environmental considerations in IT from sourcing through operations to end-of-life considerations. The richness of green IT has to do with the maturity of those practices, whether they're part of a coherent set of policies, they've been adopted into practices, or been built into concrete business systems.

Among the findings for green IT's reach:

• Disposing of IT in an environmentally friendly way is the most relevant concern companies expressed, with 62 percent of respondents ranking it very relevant to their business;

• Cost and purchasing considerations fell to the middle of the pack;

• The use of IT to supplant carbon-emitting business practices was listed as least important, with over half of respondents calling it only somewhat relevant to business operations.

On the richness spectrum, the most thorougly adopted practices among respondents was virtualization, with 56 percent of companies having adopted it to a great extent, and a further 36 percent taking virtualization on to a lesser extent. The least-adopted technology in the survey was liquid cooling, with 69 percent of companies saying they had not implemented it at all.

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