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Survey Finds IT Saving Money with Energy Efficiency Efforts

Despite the savings, the recession seems to be pushing IT purchasers away from green technologies and toward less efficient ones with less expensive up-front costs.

Efforts to improve energy efficiencies are on the rise in IT departments, but there's still plenty of space to make the case for greener practices, according to a new survey by direct market reseller CDW Corp.

CDW based its 2009 Energy Efficient IT Report on a July survey of 752 information technology professionals in both the private and public sectors.

The survey found organizations are doing more to improve energy efficiency in IT compared to 2008, and also found the efforts are delivering significant savings in energy bills.

However, although greener equipment can reduce both short- and long-term energy costs, the recession is making energy efficiency less of a priority in IT purchasing decisions. Instead, IT departments are feeling pressure to cut equipment costs.

"Under extreme budget pressure in a recessionary economy, [IT professionals' first] IT purchasing concern is the current cost of equipment and services, which can put a damper on efforts toward lowering total cost of operations," Mark Gambill, CDW vice president, said in a statement describing the results of the survey.

"While IT executives are trying to do the right thing -- buy the best technology with the right capabilities at the best price -- some may sacrifice greater long-term savings from reduced energy use by downgrading the importance of energy efficiency in the purchase equation," Gambill said.

According to the survey, purchasing measures that helped IT departments improve energy efficiency included:

  • Buying equipment with low-power/low-wattage processors
  • Using power-management tools that are network-based
  • Using software tools within uninterruptible power supplies to monitor power demand and energy use
  • Monitoring data centers remotely to keep lights off when employees aren't on site
  • Managing cable placement to reduce demand on cooling systems
  • Implementing server and storage virtualization to reduce the number of servers and storage devices drawing power

Meanwhile, CDW identified three tactics employed by organizations that successfully increased IT energy efficiency. Simply asking the IT department to reduce energy costs got results. Assigning responsibility for the amount and cost of energy used in IT operations to the IT department tended to improve efficiency. Finally, providing incentives to the IT department for reducing energy use helped. In all three cases, about 60 percent of the departments using those measures saw reductions in energy costs of 1 percent or more.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.