eCommerce Companies Talk Green But Lack Leadership

empty board room photo

Photo via Matt's Life

BPM Forum and Rackable Systems conducted a survey of the eCommerce industry and found that while participating companies know that greening data canters is important both for business and the environment, few are actually doing something about it. The Green Grid hosted their second annual conference last week to discuss and present tools to help data centers go green. The turnout was pretty tiny despite how useful and important the information provided is to the industry. That small turnout seems to be the general tone of the industry, according to a recent survey and report.

Despite the clear warnings, and the fact that a resounding 97 percent of IT professionals feel that it is important for their Internet and eCommerce related businesses to reduce their carbon footprint, little real action is underway to reduce energy consumption in the data centers.  Eighty-two percent of respondents say their organizations are more sensitized to thinking ecological, but that same amount give the industry a failing or barely passing grade in their progress of embracing Think Eco-Logical processes and practices.  

Those processes and practices by Think Eco-Logical are intended to help get data centers and IT businesses through the down economy by saving them money, as well as help the global climate crisis by shrinking the giant carbon footprint of the industry. However, any best practices don't do much to help if no one takes them on.

Data from the report suggests that while intentions are good, there is a startling dearth of leadership for green initiatives and practices -- both within individual companies and in the larger business community.  Lack of executive focus was cited by about half of respondents as a top environmental sustainability challenge.  Meaningful executive action is also lagging; conducting conversation, setting CSR guidelines, and doing nothing topped the list of management activities to push the ecological mantra.   

So in other words, everyone is looking around at someone else to grab hold and get going on energy efficiency. Gartner predicts that over the next five years, nearly half of all data centers around the world will have problems getting the electricity it takes to run, and the EPA states that in that time frame power failures will stop operations at more than 90% of data centers. So if nothing changes, things don't look good.

"Corporate America is coming to grips with the need for social responsibility like never before, but this needs to translate to positive change in the short term," said Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the BPM Forum.  "Faced with a myriad of forces and factors, including a severely challenged economy, peer pressure to become more sustainable, and the need to cut costs, IT executives must drive ecological action, not just rhetoric."

There's no doubt that something will have to change, and fast, considering that more and more of the world is relying on the Internet to run itself. We've seen significant leadership in data center efficiency from companies like Google. Now we just need others to stand up and take charge.

Something important to keep in mind is that this is a survey, not a full blown study, and it is to see who is taking on Think Eco-Logical's best practices. The fact that few seem to be taking them on doesn't mean the entire industry is ignoring taking action. We have seen recent improvements in how data center efficiency is measured, and the fact that awareness is growing means that action will grow too. But the small number of attendees at The Green Grid conference, on top of the small number of companies taking on Think Eco-Logical's best practices hints towards a somewhat disappointingly slow uptake on the drastic changes data centers need to make.

The report is available online for reference.

Via Press Release
More on Data Center Efficiency:
The Green Grid Gets Specific With New Data Center Energy Efficiency Guidelines
Data Center Equipment Getting "Miles-Per-Gallon" Measurement Standard
Dell Says No to Major Data Center Overhauls
Microsoft to Google: My PUE is Getting Better Than Your PUE

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