August 2008 Archives
By Alexander Villafania
The effect of the industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries can be likened to the effect of the information technology revolution today. It created new industries and new skills that changed the way people lived. Yet, both periods in history also had their share of negative impact: pollution.
The industrial revolution saw an increase in use of petroleum products and chemical compounds that seeped into the ground, polluting water and soil. IT industries, with the constant replacement of old equipment for better ones, is also causing a new generation of garbage and it could get worse as the demand for IT products continues growing.
Some companies have already taken steps to alleviate the problem of electronic waste. At the recently held IBM Service Management Summit in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Big Blue showcased one aspect where the company could help reduce problems caused by the IT industry. Although it was not widely promoted, the company released its "green strategy" paper aimed at its clients that are building their IT infrastructure. The paper is about 15 pages long and suggested several implementation strategies that clients and partners can take to tackle potential environmental solutions. The paper, ostensibly entitled "IBM Software: A Green Strategy for Your Entire Organization," was created in June 2008 as part of the company's campaign for its Tivoli software.
Some of the solutions provided are simple, manpower-related environmental austerity measures, which includes reducing commuting through increased online collaboration (IBM once preached about the effectiveness of having mobile workers), turning off lights when not in use, and reduction of paper consumption by using electronic forms instead. Other practices on an infrastructure scale that IBM is suggesting include optimization of hardware power consumption, shifting workloads from over-utilized servers to underutilized ones, proper cooling systems depending on the machine (some equipment fail when they come to their overheating points), and even properly managing digital data to enable quick access and reducing heat.
IBM also stressed in the paper several reasons why it is important for companies, from the smallest mom-and-pop shop to the largest conglomerates, to have a steady and focused environmental strategy. One particular issue of note is increased power consumption by IT equipment, and with the realization that prices of oil will continue to go higher, IBM stressed that their customers must take measures to reduce power consumption while running at full operational capacity.
John Frech, director for IBM Tivoli Worldwide sales strategy, said that having an environmental strategy to follow will have a positive impact not just on the environment but also on the company's operational capacity. He said their software products have been tested to allow for some energy-efficient operations, as well as maximizing the life of their equipment. He added that by giving office administrators all the tools they need to ensure full operational capacity, the company is saving on energy consumption and thus, the environment.IBM also dedicated a website specifically for their IT strategy. Other companies also have similar projects, among which includes Microsoft's Environmental Solutions, HP's Eco Solutions and Intel. This already shows how IT companies are taking responsibility for the potential impact of the IT industry on the environment and how companies like them can become leaders in saving the environment.