IT greenhouse emissions to quadruple by 2020

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Greenhouse gas emissions from datacentre operations are set to quadruple by 2020, reports management consultancy McKinsey.

A year-long study into IT's energy use, conducted in association with the Uptime Institute, highlighted the profligate use of energy in today's data centres, which are a fast-growing contributor to global carbon dioxide emissions and a drain on organisations' resources.

Its newly released McKinsey report detailing the results of that study concluded that an "immediate overhaul" of corporate IT strategy is needed to reduce IT's environmental impact.

“While the design of the next generation of ‘green’ data centers gets a lot of attention and is certainly a worthwhile pursuit, we’re putting forward the case in this report that improving efficiency in existing sites will lower energy usage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions faster and more significantly with less cost,” said Kenneth G. Brill, founder and executive director of Uptime Institute.

The report notes that organisations' increasing reliance on IT has seen the number of power-hungry servers deployed in the datacentre skyrocket; air-conditioning units and chillers needed to cool that equipment hog even more power.

The report concluded that IT leaders can tackle alleviate some of the most obvious instances of inefficiency through adopting simple measures. These include: adding operating costs into business-case justifications of new products and application to "throttle excess demand"; and appointing an internal 'energy czar' with"an operations and technology mandate to double IT energy efficiency by 2012".

Details of the report were unveiled at the Uptime Institute's Green Enterprise Computing conference. @ 2010 Incisive Media

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