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Making the Move from Near-Term Efficiencies to Sustainable Efficiencies

- December 6, 2008 - 3 Comments

A couple times a year, I assess and try to get rid of the ‘stuff’ that seems to accumulate in my life. When I look at just how much clutter I’ve yet to get rid of, now-defunct laptops, disk drives, and cell-phones fall into my line of vision. Sure, we’re supposed to recycle the gear. That goes without saying. But does that really happen as it should? According to Gartner, only 44 percent of PCs entering the secondary market will be reused. In today’s economy we need to think about the big picture, the total cost—and impact—of ownership. It’s no longer about the cost of a single phone, laptop, or disk. We need to consider the overall value and utility of the device or service so we’re not spending unnecessarily and churning out landfill. The same is true when it comes to the enterprise. We need to shift our focus from near-term efficiencies to sustainable efficiencies.If you’re being talked into a green switch, you need to do a reality check: Is it upgradeable? Will it need to be replaced in a year or so? Is it being marketed by vendors that may not even be in business next year? A focus on point power utilization, without taking into account the TCO of the network–including cooling and ongoing support costs and overall functionality, which might even enable greater efficiencies–is like driving many miles out of your way to buy cheap gas. It’s short-sighted.Could there come a day that I don’t need to replace my phone or computer every two years? A phone that is upgradable? Possibly a laptop with the modularity that would permit me to upgrade the disk drive or the processor? Or, in the case of disk storage, an infrastructure that would permit me to store everything off-site at lower cost? I’m sure that environmentally, a disk in the cloud, if secured, will be the best bet. In fact, for my private email, instead of running a server at home for the past six months, I’ve used a hosted solution. How does this relate to the enterprise?We’ve got to take a more holistic approach to green. Whether on the home front or the business front, we need to be looking at what we can buy for the long-term, or move services to the cloud. We call this a flight to quality, looking at upgradability and ongoing vendor support. And it’s all part of a vision in which, over time, you could walk into a datacenter and see switches or routers first deployed years ago, but still useful. And suddenly, the future looks greener. I’m excited about this new green blog and look forward to a lively exchange of ideas. Please join the conversation and share your thoughts around green trends and topics in your world.

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  1. I agree Marie. Obsolescence and ewaste are both extremely important issues that we all need to address. It can't just be green because it uses less energy, quality and durability should also an important measurement for how green"" a product is. Also exploring new technology and finding creative solutions to curve ghg. Its a global problem that needs many creative solutions and new innovations."

  2. The Way ForwardMarie - your comments about a holistic approach are thought provoking. What if everyone were to take a longer view of the true costs of their acquisitiveness? More focus, consideration, maturity in this area would help us all reduce cost and waste in a big way.Too often there’s some new device or feature that we feel we “must have”, only to find that the device or feature doesn’t work with the rest of our lifestyles, budgets, or workflow. We ignore the total cost and the big picture because we’re so hypnotized by one particular aspect of an item that the broader, more practical considerations fall away. Sometimes the appeal is price, and other times it’s some little feature that’s just plain different.My version of this lesson happened with DSLR cameras. After purchasing a seemingly-more-affordable entry level Nikon about two years ago, I started buying lenses and soon discovered that my investment in lenses quickly eclipsed the initial camera cost. In an effort to curb my spending, I started looking into used lenses, only to find that the supposedly cheaper newer format camera I had wouldn’t work with older format lenses. Once I realized the long-term impact of this decision, I switched to the more established format and have saved thousands of dollars on used lenses, while significantly improving image quality.This expensive personal lesson readily applies to IT. People looking at an individual appliance, particularly at a branch office, may not always consider the full cost of integrating that appliance into their overall IT infrastructure.For example, in parallel to their data center consolidation, many companies are deploying WAN optimization in branch offices. However, some companies have neglected to consider how WAN Optimization and Unified Communications applications play together, so they have to reset all their Quality of Service settings for IP telephony. Had they looked at the impact of tunnel-based WAN Optimization, they could have saved quite a bit of time and frustration for multiple IT folks, as well as money for the organization.Now more than ever, all of us, need to be strategic players in reducing cost, complexity, and risk for our companies, and thoughtfully consider the company-wide (not to mention customer) impact on our decisions. Instead of just looking at our individual needs or agendas, we need to become more collaborative, mature, and forward-looking stewards of our budgets – both personal and corporate. This is the way forward out of our current economic plight, and we can all do it together.

  3. Dear Cisco,When you are the leader in helping to save the enviroment, you are a real leader. Live is much more than making money in a short while in one live. Succes Petra Vlutters