Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

All the time and everywhere, and green – moving towards a more responsive computing and communications framework

Posted in business and convergent technologies by Timothy Platt on March 27, 2010

Green technology and aligning business with environmental protection and awareness is becoming an effective marketing point, but this is more than just a fad or a fashion. When you look past the marketing you quickly see that a green approach can be essential to survival itself for a business. To cite just one increasingly common finding and for many, many information-intensive businesses, it can take more electrical power and cost more from revenue developed to temperature control a server room than it does to actually run all those server computers in it with staffing included.

Newer more physically compact blade servers, tightly packed in their server racks generate tremendous amounts of heat when working in concert, and the tendency is to move more and more computing capacity into smaller and smaller spaces. But even with increased server density, server room space is still increasing to meet the ever increasing demand for computational power. And this is just one of many issues where environmental impact enters the picture, and with tremendous potential for increased costs and for reduced competitiveness in the marketplace.

To cite one more example to set the foundation for this posting, consider the simple fact that any and every piece of hardware, and all of the physical supplies required to manage and utilize that hardware comes with lifecycles. Physical resources have to be manufactured, and often from other pre-constructed components and with complex manufacturing resources. There are both financial and environmental costs associated with any production, from the acquisition and development of initial raw materials through every processing step. And the ongoing results and products and waste byproducts of all of this have to be shipped and warehoused and shipped again on their way to your shop and to a great many other locations. Then you use your hardware and supplies you purchase and as they are used up, break down and/or become obsolete this all has to be discarded, with potential for either landfill increase or recycling or some combination thereof. And a great deal of the hardware and other physical resources of information technology involve toxic materials, in manufacturing and processing steps and contained in final products.

The emergence of all-the-time and everywhere ubiquitous computing is increasing the demand for more and more computational and communications resources and for increasing the availability of all of the networking capacity needed to make all of this work together.
• At the same time, however, highly interactive computing and communications and the social networking it both supports and is driven by, create new opportunities for efficiency.
• The finer the granularity of reach across and between communities, the easier it is to both identify and share word of potential problems and opportunities for addressing them.
• More effective fine grained but wide reaching networking and communications, and sharing of data and knowledge also creates whole new routes to organized action, where local problems can be more easily identified for their global recurrence, impact and importance.

Individuals can share information, joining voices to set agendas for objectives, priorities and ways to define and meet needs. And where environmental impact is not just an abstract understanding of issues somewhere else – when it is happening in your own backyard or in the backyard of someone you know and network with it has immediacy of importance to set it right.

On one level, green technology is all about the technology and meeting specific parametric goals and standards – no more than X parts per billion of a particular waste byproduct permissible in drinking water, or reducing temperature control energy expenses in my business to no more than 40% of the current level as determined from metering the HVAC system for power level usage and at what times of the day and night.

This is also at least as much about usage requirements – meeting the goals and priorities as to what the technology is supposed to do. And that is significantly driven by individual user, community and general public standards and by larger societal goals and acceptable norms.

When you go beyond green in technology as simply another marketing talking point or slogan you find yourself looking deeply into issues of top and bottom line cost, of individual and community, and societal needs, and of ways to both increase quality of life and limit longer term costs from doing it wrong. Effective green is effective long term risk management and cost containment, and at many levels and for many forms of value.

• Making green work in a here and now operational sense and as workable, affordable policy has to involve detailed understanding of the costs and benefits, near term and longer term involved.
• Ubiquitous computing with its all the time and everywhere participation and feedback can both drive this as an overall set of processes and help to more effectively define goals and priorities for reaching them.
• And it can form the basis for a political will to actually get this done and in the face of factions and groups with their own short term priorities that may conflict with larger societal needs.

I have written this posting primarily from the perspective of why and I plan on continuing on the topic of green ubiquitous computing from a more organizational how in future postings.

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  1. […] All the Time and Everywhere, and Green – moving towards a more responsive computing and communicat…. • Social Networking as an Essential Driver for Effective Green […]

  2. […] All the Time and Everywhere, and Green – moving towards a more responsive computing and communicat…. • Social Networking as an Essential Driver for Effective Green […]

  3. […] • All the Time and Everywhere, and Green – moving towards a more responsive computing and communicat…. […]

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