This article also appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of Better Software magazine.
"Green IT" refers to environmentally sustainable computing and the optimal use of information and communication technology (ICT) to manage the environmental sustainability of enterprise operations, supply chain, products, services, and resources throughout their lifecycle.  Organizations often fail to quantify the green benefits of portfolio optimization and thus miss a significant opportunity to articulate its sustainable value. The Carbon Disclosure Project has developed guidelines to calculate the carbon footprint of ICT-sector companies , and the International Telecommunication Union  is developing guidelines to help the ICT sector embrace sustainability in all aspects of its operations. These developments should nudge more organizations to look into the greening of their IT operations.
As seen in figure 1, most IT projects can be classified into the following broad areas: application, operating system, hardware, network, data center (power, cooling, and facility), monitoring, security, costs, and processes and management. The elements in the border encompass all the individual layers as monitoring can be for the physical data center, network, or application. Similarly cost optimization can be a project for just one of the layers or for overall IT cost. A data center consolidation project may be undertaken to reduce cost and overhead and to provide reliable services to employees and customers. While these are valid reasons for this project, the green benefits are equally important. A project of this scale usually involves rationalizing several applications, discarding hardware, and trimming resources. If no environmental baseline is taken at the beginning of the project, then the sustainability benefits cannot be measured or reported at the end, and an additional benefit will be lost.
Benefits of Incorporating Sustainability Metrics
Incorporating sustainability into IT portfolio optimization offers many benefits, such as metrics that provide visibility into the impact of IT on the environment and a comprehensive sustainability data repository with respect to an organization's IT assets and application portfolio. Sustainability data related to green IT initiatives becomes streamlined as a result of the incorporation of these sustainability metrics.
In addition, employees generally feel good about contributing to a greener environment through their daily work. Green initiatives can be leveraged for the company’s participation in voluntary disclosure frameworks like the Carbon Disclosure Project to improve brand reputation. There is also motivation to achieve a little more while executing projects due to the added measurements and metrics that must be reported, and the process makes a stronger business case for streamlined IT operations. Lastly, organizations will find themselves in a better position to be compliant with upcoming regulations, such as those enforced by market regulators in certain locations that require organizations to publish sustainability reports or carbon taxation norms.
A telecommunication service provider wanted to cut costs, increase capacity, and reduce the carbon footprint of its IT infrastructure. The provider understood that the data center and its server, storage, and network assets supported applications.
The organization’s IT infrastructure and operations group took a unique approach. They focused on rationalizing the portfolio first and then focused on consolidating, optimizing, and virtualizing the remaining infrastructure. The benefits were significant. From January to December, the organization retired 127 applications, decommissioned or redeployed more than 2,239 servers, and freed up 291,042 GB of storage. This translated into $28 million of re-deployable assets, a $20 million reduction in operating costs, and a reduction of data center-related carbon emissions by 10,450 metric tons. 
Aspects of an Application Portfolio
An application portfolio consists of the infrastructure (IT and facility), the IT service management (ITSM) process, and the IT back office. The infrastructure hosts the IT applications. This comprises the data center, network, servers, and storage for environments like test, development, production, and disaster recovery. The ITSM process defines methods, policies, and SLAs and impacts sustainability at several levels, including resources, people, and infrastructure. The IT back office has various teams supporting the application, from development and test teams to the service desk and the governance team for the process and applications. (See figure 2.)
|Green It: A Sustainability Perspective For Portfolio Optimization||2.22 MB|