IT managers have been accused of ignoring green issues after a new survey from international consultancy group Morse revealed that 89 percent of businesses have no idea how much energy the IT department uses.
Last month analyst group Gartner said that the IT industry is responsible for two percent of global CO2 emissions, the same amount as the airline industry.
The Morse survey, carried out by Vanson Bourne a couple of months ago, questioned over 100 IT Directors in the United Kingdom. It found that 76 percent of companies have set no targets for reducing the IT department's power usage, and that 63 percent of organisations claim to have a strategy to become more environmentally friendly.
Yet according to Morse, ignoring the IT department's power use suggests that many of these green strategies are little more than hot air.
62 percent of organisations said that green IT was not a top priority and only 24 percent of organisations said they are working towards a set energy reduction target.
"This survey is a realistic snapshot of the IT manager," said Tim Turquand, consultant at Morse. "IT managers don't have an idea of how much their data centre is costing them."
"The survey clearly shows that IT departments do not know about their electricity bills," he added. "Green IT strategies are just not aligned to any business strategy at the moment. For example, most businesses have recycle bins for printer cartridges and or paper, but they forget about their 20,000 square foot data centre which is the biggest pollutant."
"If they don't know what their power consumption is, how can they expect to reduce it?" Turquand asked.
The problem, according to Turquand, is that currently the electricity bill of a company is traditionally paid by the central facilities or operations group, which gives IT departments very little visibility into how much power their consume.
"Facilities departments normally pay electricity bills as part of their job," said Turquand, "but IT is going to have start realising what their costs are, and the amount of carbon being produced."
"Attitudes have to change," he said. "There can be no more heads in the sand, and IT managers have to stop paying lip service to green IT and do something about it."
Turquand pointed out that IT managers need to be aware of the energy consumption of their entire IT infrastructure, and not just the data centre or server room. "He or she should gain visibility of the power being produced from all assets," he said.
Another problem comes from the fact that IT departments are often not the one making equipment purchases. "Purchases are normally made by projects and not IT departments," said Turquand. "The project is given a budget, and they go out buy the equipment they need, and then when the project is finished, they move to different project or even a different company."
"The IT department is left to pick up the pieces from projects, or more often or not they do not pick up the pieces, they just put their heads in the ground and ignore it," he said.
"That has to change, and IT managers need to get a grip on what is being brought and how power does it consumes." Turquand believes that control must be given back to the IT department so that it can investigate strategies which help the business to reduce its energy consumption. These could include using virtualisation to increase utilisation rates and turning the allocation of storage and server resources into a service offered to the business so that fewer devices are needed and they become easier to manage.
Turquand advocates that departments should be billed for their energy consumption in order to increase accountability. He accepts this is going to be difficult. "There needs to be culture change, and we need to drastically change how we work."
The Morse survey found that only 12 percent charge the IT department for the power used.
Another finding was that over half (53 percent) of the UK businesses surveyed, said that making their data centres greener would be too expensive.