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Are you a Guppie?

October 23, 2008 - 0 Comments

Greening your CollarimageimageGuppie?! In this age of soundbite information, we have to have our labels right. So my father who is a long time data center manager and up until very recently leaned very much to the “right” in politics asked me about this whole “Green” thing. His question was to the effect of “how did you get into all this Green stuff”? As I dug further what he was really asking is how can I be a Greenie when I don’t look or act anything like the traditional American stereotype of a “Treehugger”. For those unfamiliar, starting in the 1980’s a sort of a branding exercise began by the ultra-capitalist base to paint those with environmental concerns as being socialist, hippie, unemployed owl lovers. I find this misconception is still strong among many people born before 1975 in the US.So fast forward to today, where are we? Well, anyone can see that an unbridled “charge it” first, let the free market figure it out second posture is catching up with us. And what has been the response, a pendulum swing to a socialist answer, the partial nationalizing of US financial institutions. Sounds like a system screaming for balance no?Ok, political history and considerations aside…who and what type of people are making their white and blue collars a deeper shade of Green? Its hard to speak in generalities with any authority so let me simply offer my observations of how roles are changing in business and how personal passions come into play. Over the last couple of years I have probably spoken ~100 times to well over 1000 people on how Cisco is approaching Green in data centers and beyond. I always try to anticipate what an audience would like to get out of a session and for most, if not all of 2007 it was about learning the basics to help define what Green meant to them in my opinion. Fast forward to today and I think we’ve begun the transition to “how do I apply that knowledge”. I think one of the unspoken challenges here in adopting Green considerations in general is the label thing. You may find many in the business world might be dismissive of a Green point of view even though you have a personal passion for it.Don’t be frustrated if you are made to feel like a silly Treehugger for throwing your 2 Green cents in. Part of it is the entrenched perception, part of it is the flood of Greenwash marketing out there, part of it is pure taxonomy. What I will typically try to do is this:1) Dispel the notion of that you have to be a hippie type to care about the environment (I for example am the son of a retired US Naval Chief, a former NCAA athlete and data center architect, no dreadlocks, shaved and deodorized)2) As quickly as possible move past the term Green. You can start with the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). In our case we talk Reduce. Reduce what? Reduce $’s, Watts and C02 through energy efficiency. This will help a lot as Green is political and social in nature and far too nebulous for the typical business planning meeting.3) Show your stuff and don’t be shy about the fact that energy efficiency, infrastructure consolidation, simplification of architectures, etc. are all a good thing by any traditional business measure if planned and implemented correctly.4) Don’t go to far down the black-hole of circular math. This can be an unfortunate side effect of a subjective value measure of energy efficiency. Green and in general the value that is placed on an IT work unit for a particular service will be specific to an operation. Stick to what is understood and can be cited like electrical efficiency, PUE and DCiE from The Green Grid as examples. This is not to say you should stop there as you do have to form your own value metric specific to your operation. However, you have to get there through building consensus and that consensus can be achieved by starting with an objective foundation of data sets.What I’m seeing is a group of IT professionals that is growing bigger by the day, the Eco-Herd Freidman might call them? What I have seen most of my colleagues doing is learning about Green issues in their spare time (we all have a lot of that!) and getting themselves to a point of confidence where they can be credibly conversant and in time, drive a Green agenda. Whatever your tactics, the strategy of getting to know Green is a smart thing from a professional development standpoint. In my case, I am a more valuable employee being a Green expert than I would be as a pure networking specialist, especially considering I have 20 years experience in “Green” and maybe 5-7 in networking. A Green skill set will be even more compelling if we see more regulations roll out in the next 2 presidential terms…So, Guppy? Greenie+Yuppie = Guppie. While I’m not a fan of labels and these 2 are more or less diametrically opposed, its the best one I could think of to describe the emerging Green IT professional. One who considers economic and ecologic considerations with somewhat equal weighting.Are you?PS – Check out to see the changing face of Greenies

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