Greening the ICT industry

(This article is contributed by Mr Nick Lambert, Managing Director, Global Markets, Cable&Wireless Worldwide)

The Asia-Pacific information communications technology sector has developed at an exponential rate in the last 10 years. It is also producing a growing environmental footprint which must be managed in the long-term.

Companies the world over are beginning to look at Green IT and sustainability issues in information and communication technology (ICT), which in itself has irrevocably changed the way we work and provided us with solutions to connect, engage, and collaborate.

We see that ICT plays a dual role in being both a cause and a solution for environmental sustainability issues, with a significant amount of energy usage – which generates a large ecological footprint on one hand, and plays a vital role to help address environmental sustainability problems on the other. By recognising and addressing this delicate balance, it is our view that ICT organisations can help employ more energy-conserving ways of working.

Industry players are in the last few years, slowly awakening to the fact that there is a need to do their part to reduce this. Adopting intelligent solutions, such as converging IT and telecommunications technologies and, implementing tools such as videoconferencing, can help in the development of sustainable business strategies. By taking on sustainable practices, businesses have not only reduced their CO2 emissions but also benefitted in some tangible form from upfront cost savings through the reduction of energy consumption.

Looking at the environment in which we operate, it is heartening to see for example Wipro – one of Asia-Pacific’s biggest IT service providers – taking first steps towards Greening their products. It earlier this year sold its first computer made without any potentially hazardous materials to human health. The new computer, called “Greenware”, reported to be completely free of PVC (polyvinylchloride) and BFR (brominated flame retardants) and now lights up a path that hopefully will be followed by many international PC makers, not already in that space.

Such developments are a welcome change among businesses in the Asia-Pacific, where developments such as e-waste is fast becoming a particular concern in some countries which are ‘landing spots’ for shipments of dumped waste from developed countries for crude recycling. However, the need to managing e-waste is only one of the environmental hurdles confronting the region’s ICT industry.

Research figures by Gartner estimate that ICT accounts for two per cent of worldwide carbon emissions – the same level of CO2 emissions as the airline industry. And this figure is expected to double over the next decade as large numbers of new internet and phone subscribers as well as data-heavy communications services are added to ICT networks.

Playing our part for the sustainability of our environment is also something we, at Cable&Wireless Worldwide, are fundamentally committed to in our business. In our operations in Asia Pacific and abroad, we have actively worked as far as possible to reduce energy consumption by adopting ICT technologies and practices that balance environmental and business goals.

It is this success which has led us to extend this approach to the services and products we offer our customers, many of whom are businesses who widely use ICT in their daily operations. For instance, one of the first things for businesses looking to reduce their energy consumption, is perhaps to start by optimising their data centre infrastructure. Where possible, data centres should be consolidated onto fewer, more technologically advanced servers, which release less heat and deliver greater performance per watt of power dissipation.

Better utilisation can also be brought about with virtualisation, which splits one physical server into multiple virtual servers. By simply consolidating and “virtualising” servers in on-site or external data centres, companies can improve their total server utilisation from 10 per cent to as much as 70 per cent. These improvements are important because fully loaded servers, proportionally, consume much less energy than under-utilised ones.

A further way to build on the cost and carbon emission savings generated by data centre consolidation is to improve an organisation’s overall efficiency in its ICT networks and processes. Specially designed software packages and services, such as Application Performance Management (APM), are ideal for this. APM is designed to deliver optimal network performance and efficiency by monitoring and managing the applications, user profiles and services on an organisation’s Wide Area Network (WAN). This can eliminate the longer working hours and excess infrastructure needed to overcome poor productivity caused by slow networks – significantly cutting carbon emissions in the process.

Changing ourselves in the next generation

Another way that businesses throughout Asia Pacific are tackling carbon emissions is by changing their work practices. Managed video conferencing (MVC) solutions – particularly systems incorporating telepresence and high definition (HD) technologies for ‘live’ meetings – is increasingly helping regional organisations reduce their business travel costs.

We also believe in practising environmental stewardship. In fact, we have used such solutions ourselves to save money and reduce our carbon footprint as an organisation. As a user of what we ourselves sell, we have made video conferencing easy and accessible with suites in the United Kingdom, Europe and key sites in Asia, Australia and the United States.

Using ourselves as an example, in February this year, our CEO led a worldwide meeting for colleagues in Bangalore, Singapore, Hong Kong and the UK on video conference – and this delivered cost savings of some £40,000 in travel and accommodation costs. We have also converted our monthly operations meetings between colleagues in London and Bangalore to video conferences, saving an estimated 120 days of management time, some significant direct travel costs in the first month. Furthermore, we have purpose built an application to measure our travel savings and CO2 emissions savings and estimate that in the last year, we have made annual savings of 600,000 kg CO2 per year.

In the Asia Pacific, we have also collaborated with Regus to provide Telepresence solutions which give businesses of all sizes the opportunity to take full advantage of this technology, and the green benefits associated with it through its meeting facilities and business centers.

Another industry-wide development growing much in popularity across Asia Pacific, is the concept of remote working – where employees work from home part of the time – and.there are many benefits associated with this.

Not in the least, the major ‘green’ benefit of remote working is the reduction in unnecessary travel, which can have a massive impact on an organisation’s carbon emissions, and the accompanying reductions of emissions seen in the reduced use of office space, equipment and power. With employees working away from the office, organisations can save on heating, cooling and energy consumption, all of which adds up to a significant reduction in its carbon footprint. Of course, remote working is also a significant way to help employees achieve a better work/life balance.

While many businesses believe the necessary IT and network infrastructure changes required to implement remote working may remain a barrier to ‘true’ mass adoption, because of complexities and costs in implementation, solutions such as IP Virtual Private Networks (IPVPNs) provide the backbone for remote working. Our IPVPN is a managed service for carrying voice and data traffic across the public network and is designed for organisations that want to connect all their employees and sites for example, in the UK to a single corporate network. Based on our next-generation network, IPVPN converges voice and data lines to ensure businesses have the necessary bandwidth to deal with all the applications businesses now require. It also supports mission critical communications in the office and facilitates remote access seamlessly.

The Impact of Green in industry

The cost savings gained by adopting such green initiatives can be dramatic if pursued correctly and in a systematic way. According to the business value analysis study, “Symantec Corporation: The Green Data Centre,” Symantec, the largest maker of personal computer security software, was able to save more than US$2.1 million in energy costs by implementing green IT practices in its data centres.

Many other successes have also been widely written about. For example, Hewlett Packard made similar gains in India. In early 2008, the company consolidated 14 data centres into one large site in Bangalore, which was cooled by an air conditioning system equipped with 7,500 temperature sensors. The facility’s 40 per cent savings in power consumption equated to annual savings of approximately US$1.2 million.

Such energy savings at the individual corporate level are as we hear of them, very impressive. However, it is our belief that a far greater impact can be achieved if the industry ‘greens up its act” together with global governments to establish standardised ways of calculating and monitoring the energy consumption of our products and the CO2 emissions of our activities.

Improved international and national standards could also do its part to drive environmentally-friendly innovation in ICT. For instance, it could push product designers to ensure recycling is a key consideration in the manufacture of electronics hardware and equipment. This means having an idea of which components will be re-usable, recyclable and biodegradable once the devices become obsolete, and actively including this in the making of such hardware.

The SMART 2020 report, commissioned by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, estimates that the ICT sector could enable a reduction of up to 15 per cent of global emissions – more than five times the footprint of the sector itself. In the process, green IT could create new business lines worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

What then an amazing incentive it would be for more businesses to follow the lead of the many companies who have already starting their journey towards green IT!

About Nick Lambert

As Managing Director of all Global Markets outside of the UK, Nick is responsible for Cable&Wireless Worldwide’s businesses in Africa, Asia, Continental Europe, Ireland and the United. States. In his current role, he holds overall commercial and strategic responsibility for sales, marketing, HR and service delivery operations for those markets.

Nick has brought extensive professional experience to Cable&Wireless Worldwide since he joined in October 2007. He previously served as the Asia Pacific Vice President of Infrastructure Management Services for IBM, its Asia Pacific General Manager for its market-leading ‘i series’ mid-range servers, and was also Managing Director of IBM New Zealand, where he drove a dramatic turnaround in profitability and growth.

Nick has also held senior leadership positions with Wang Computers and Sequent Computer Systems in different regions including the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

A graduate from Victoria University with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Nick has also attended Wharton Business School and Boston University’s Executive Management Programme.

About Cable&Wireless Worldwide

Cable&Wireless Worldwide (LSE: CW.) aims to be the first-choice provider of mission critical communications. The Company is one of the world’s leading critical communication providers delivering a range of high-quality managed voice, data and IP-based services and applications to large corporates, multinational companies, governments, carrier customers and resellers across the UK, Asia Pacific, India, Middle East & Africa, Continental Europe and North America.

In the UK, Cable&Wireless Worldwide owns the country’s largest fibre network dedicated to business users of telecoms reaching 20,500km in length, and providing ubiquitous UK access through a combination of fibre, digital, microwave, radio and leased circuits. The network has presence in more than 400 towns and cities in the UK, with 802 unbundled exchanges covering 55% of the population.

On an international scale, Cable&Wireless Worldwide’s global next-generation network (NGN) stretches to more than 500,000km, including interests in 69 global cable systems, and provides connectivity to 153 countries. The Company’s Multi-Service Platform, an IP-based next-generation platform that operates across the NGN, offers a single environment on which voice and data applications can be converged to drive business efficiencies. The network is uniquely designed with inbuilt resilience and the capability to re-route traffic across diverse paths in the event of failure of one or more paths, particularly at the international level.

With more than 6,300 colleagues globally, Cable&Wireless Worldwide is committed to delivering exceptional customer service and developing long term partnerships with its customers.

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