"Green IT" is the most overhyped techno-buzzword of the decade. I'm sick of the term, and I'm tired of hearing how it will save the world.
It's not that I hate the Earth or the environment. I'm just as green as the next guy -- and that is exactly why I want to see Green IT go the way of the dodo.
The problem is that too many "green" technology claims are just a bunch of hot CO2. They offer feel-good promises wrapped up in touchy-feely language. It all looks great on paper, but it leaves CIOs hanging when it comes to one vital question: How will it really affect the bottom line?
That sounds heartless, but it's true. The sooner we face up to it, the sooner we can do the right things for the right reasons.
Virtualization is one of the most visible culprits here. A virtualized server isn't a silver bullet that stops global warming dead in its tracks. It's a tool that might allow a company to eliminate physical servers and thus cut its power costs. Whether or not that actually happens will depend upon a number of factors, many of which have little to do with virtualization technology per se.
So-called Green SOAs are an even better example. Once you untangle this web of fuzzy concepts, what you find is a number of business processes that enterprises have been practicing for years. What changed to make SOAs so green all of a sudden? Not much, except for vendors looking for a simplistic way to sell a complex, and potentially very expensive, set of technologies.
Why slam the notion of selling perfectly valid enterprise technologies in green packages? Because it practically begs to set off a backlash as companies scramble to justify IT investments that they made using less-than-realistic ROI calculations.
Fortunately, more companies are getting wise to what it really takes to turn green initiatives into bottom-line benefits. According to Symantec's "2009 Worldwide Green IT Report," more than 80 percent of IT organizations are now responsible for their data-center electricity bills. That, in turn, means that companies are now able to track their data center electricity consumption accurately -- something that very few of them could do just a couple of years ago.
That is real progress, and it opens a world of possibilities. Companies that can track their data-center power usage down to the last kilowatt can tell exactly how a particular investment will affect their infrastructure costs. They can hold a vendor's feet to the fire and separate real ROI from marketing hype.
So go ahead, throw Green IT under a hybrid bus. The really effective technologies will get by just fine without it, and we can begin to talk about them in terms that a CIO can repeat in a board meeting without getting pelted by recycled printer cartriges.
If we want to make the world a better place, that sounds like a far more realistic way to start.