Essential Guide

Browse Sections
This content is part of the Essential Guide: Enterprise IT infrastructure in the age of cloud: A guide for CIOs
Problem solve Get help with specific problems with your technologies, process and projects.

Green information technology initiatives: How do you demonstrate ROI?

Our Twitter followers, editors and writers weigh in on green information technology in data center planning and different ways of demonstrating ROI.'s inaugural tweet jam fostered a discussion among @searchCIO followers, editors and writers about the future of the data center, including whether we should be calling the data center the "cloud center" and how mobile and bring your own device (BYOD) trends are shifting infrastructure strategies.

The final topic up for debate was, "What green information technology efforts will shape the data center of the future?" Participants weighed in with the following tweets:

  • @jwia: Green IT initiatives = anything that reduces racks and floor space. $ is biggest green initiative. Capacity planning is key.
  • @SeanCCameron: Anything that reduces footprint is green. Virtualization, capacity management and greener power sources should reduce and save money.
  • @jwia: Avoid over provisioning. Self-service portals for cloud breed this problem. Need to identify and reclaim unused. Capacity management will prove to be the brain of cloud computing. #markmywords

So how about some real-life examples of green information technology done right?

  • @RachelatTT: Can you give us some examples? Companies, data center strategies, etc.?
  • @mthiele10: Many different efforts to green the data center are already happening. Biggest area of operation is efficiency of use of IT solutions. Next biggest area of opp for green IT is power source. Even the most efficient data center is still a carbon pit if powered by coal.
  • @cmsteffen: Continued improvement in virtualization and data center management have dropped our data center consumption almost 90%!

While making your business greener is the obvious choice for the environmentally conscious, it's not always the easy choice, as editor Wendy Schuchart observed:

  • @wendyshuchart: Cynical reply: None. Green IT only happens when it pays the company back, nobody does it just to feel special or hug a dolphin.
    • @shannonsnowden: @wendyschuchart has an excellent point. Very few organizations have green IT as the primary reason.
    • @SteeleCommWeb: Agreed and not cynical -- realistic. Investment is too large and important. Energy savings, yes. Green, no.
    • @jwia: @wendyschuchart: It is truly all about money, but Europe has a much larger focus on true "green IT."
    • @wendyschuchart: @jwia As fortune would have it, lots of green IT initiatives do end up saving money.
    • @jwia: @wendyschuchart but some do just feel good #hugadolphin
    • @KarenGoulart: @jwia @wendyschuchart Don't forget good public relations. Which, of course, eventually can translate to money.
  • @AndiMann: Real green costs -- power, cooling -- often ignored in cloud pay-as-you-go. Especially for private cloud, data center infrastructure management is very important.
    • @cmsteffen: @AndiMann For sure, but the overall still makes private cloud very attractive from a green IT perspective.
    • @AndiMann: @cmsteffen Yes, indeed. Cost savings generally (not always). But footprint, power and cooling all tend to be positive with private cloud.
  • @LEDesignGroup: Many "cloud" providers choose reliability over efficiency -- no guarantee that there is 'green' improvement by going to cloud.

Selling green information technology ideas starts at the top, but convincing business leaders to move to a greener solution is sometimes no easy task:

  • @cmsteffen: Green IT is an easier sell to the C-Table, especially if it improves ROI. Cloud can help you get there.
    • @mthiele10: @cmsteffen Cloud is no guarantee of "Green," depends on who runs the cloud and where the power is drawn from.
    • @cmsteffen: @mthiele10 Mark, no question. But the savings are there if you look for it. It isn't always easy, but it's there.
    • @mthiele10: I've saved millions for companies using green and sustainable strategies. So yes, it's definitely there.
    • @RachelatTT: @cmsteffen @mthiele10 That's what I like to hear. Use cases help other companies follow this good example.

In theory, environmentally friendly data centers are an obvious choice for greener information technology, but our tweet jam participants suggested that, while there is an effort to switch to greener IT solutions, the monetary investment has to make sense, too.

Search "#CIOChat" on Twitter to see additional tweets from our data center discussion and follow @searchCIO to be notified about upcoming Twitter conversations.

Dig Deeper on Enterprise systems management