Lecturer calls for 400 Green IT specialists

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Lecturer calls for 400 Green IT specialists

Calls for virtualisation, remote data centres, and conceptual change.

Australia needs only 400 specialists to sufficiently reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ICT, according to Australian National University (ANU) lecturer Tom Worthington.

Speaking at a Data Centre Green Tech conference in Sydney this week, Worthington highlighted Australian Computer Society findings (pdf) that traced 2.7 percent of the nation's emissions to ICT.

Better use of ICT could reduce relevant emissions by 15 percent by 2020, he told iTnews today.

"We need to train about 400 people in Australia and that should be enough," Worthington said.

He expected 400 people was enough to bring Green IT principles to government agencies and large companies.

Worthington designed ANU's Masters-level Green IT course, said to be the "first globally accredited Green IT course" when it launched in January 2009.

The course had 25 students from a range of backgrounds, including IT, software engineering, electrical engineering, law and international relations.

Students typically also worked in the industry, so many final assignments were official strategy documents for their organisations.

A simple strategy worked best, Worthington said, especially since businesses typically focused more on cost than climate change.

"[Some professionals] skip rapidly into the detail of technical implementations; they forget that all this computer stuff is just there to support the business," he said.

"The key is, when you're thinking about how to be 'green', you should be thinking about what you're doing at a business level, and how to do that more efficiently."

Worthington recommended companies consider mobile devices - such as iPads and laptops - that directly accessed virtualised or web-based applications on remote data centres without needing "all the stuff in-between".

But while the concept of service bureaus and shared computing resources has been around for half a century, some organisations resisted the concept of virtualised or cloud-based systems, he said.

"Conceptually, they have difficulty. And in practice, it does take a lot of work," he said.

With Federal proposals such as Labor's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) and Liberal's Emissions Reduction Fund, Worthington expected environmentally sustainable computing to become an increasing focus for businesses.

He made seven recommendations for an environmentally sustainable data centre:

1.       Determine the required services
2.       Consolidate and virtualise
3.       Invest in low-energy IT equipment
4.       Optimise layout
5.       Optimise airflow
6.       Invest in low-energy cooling
7.       Practise energy conscious management

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