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Green IT: How far is the Indian corporate ready to go?

Jasmine Desai, Principal Correspondent

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As delegations from 192 countries sit at Copenhagen amidst talks for a new global treaty, it must be said that green is the way to go. All the more so, since the Data Center Purchasing Intentions Survey carried out by the SearchDataCenter.in team over a period of 60 days on various facets of IT purchasing decisions by Indian enterprise IT users support these views. Going by the IT budgets allotted for 2010, it's obvious that Indian companies are seriously concerned about being environmentally-savvy. Despite this interest, the survey shows that India still has a long way to go before competing with more developed countries. Though most Indian organizations are gung-ho about green IT, changing the current infrastructure or tweaking it to suit green technology will take more time.

While India has willingly accepted the need to take the green IT route, experimenting with new technologies calls for more technology spends. Little wonder, that only 27.2% of Indian businesses have implemented power-saving technologies like hot aisle or cold aisle containment.

With power outages common to Indian cities and towns, 77% of the surveyed Indian companies feel that there is a dire need to reduce power consumption in the data center. Another reason is also the pressure from their respective business units (in 78% of cases, it is the corporate that foots the power bill), since the power bill (for IT included) is usually billed to the corporate. Compare this to organizations in the US and UK, where business units usually don't pay the data center power bills.

India Inc is reluctant to spend on new power saving technologies. So 2010 is more likely to witness spends on improving air conditioning efficiency or activating the power down feature on servers.
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For that matter, even liquid cooling has been deployed by only 19.5% of the surveyed organizations. About 28.2% of CIOs have deployed air-side or water-side economizers, though. Free cooling as a concept is still new in India, and only large organizations have opted for it. This, because, using air-side or water-side economizers requires additional infrastructure.

There is also a general reluctance towards spends on new power saving technologies. So 2010 is more likely to witness spends on improving air conditioning efficiency (63% of organizations) or activating the power down feature on servers (51.3%). This is largely because Indian companies find it hard to justify new capital expenditure costs to the finance teams.

The scenario is much more rosier when it comes to green servers. In 2010, a significant chunk of investments will be made towards buying energy-efficient servers (for 54% of surveyed Indian businesses) and server virtualization (41%). The driver behind these initiatives is savings on the space and power fronts. For 32% of Indian IT decision makers, saving power is the driving factor for server purchases.

While CIOs show a definite interest in going green, it comes at a price. It will still take a while before we see more Indian organizations becoming aggressive on the green IT front.