How Deloitte's IT team has gone green

Yes, the energy savings are nice, but for Deloitte CIO Larry Quinlan, green IT is just part of running an efficient IT shop

Saving on energy costs is obviously a good thing, but to Larry Quinlan, CIO at the consulting firm Deloitte, green IT simply makes good business sense. "If you run green IT right, you will end up with a vastly superior IT organization," Quinlan said during his keynote address at the recent Network World IT Roadmap event in the US, in which he described green IT as one of five technologies that will change IT. From reducing demand for IT resources to thin laptops, Quinlan has no shortage of ideas on how to make green IT deliver on multiple fronts.

How does green IT help you create a superior IT organization?

In order to run IT well, you want streamlined, efficient, cost-efficient operations and green IT gets you exactly that. Think about elements of green IT such as server consolidation. OK, great, you save electricity. But you also save on people, you save on moving parts, on leasing administration, you save on the software that goes on those servers, you increase your uptime percentages. Your security posture improves because of the smaller number of devices you have to keep in compliance. That's just one example of how green IT will actually make operations better.

Another aspect of green IT that we're looking at is use of printing. We're moving from a free-for-all with everybody having personal printers, lots of different kinds, wasting paper, to using larger, more effective devices that cost less per page. We'll take the number of printers down significantly, in some cases by more than 100 percent, by centralizing printers. One aspect of it is reduced use of electricity, but it also means fewer devices we to have to manage, fewer annoying phone calls about printers out of toner, fewer people managing them, better output, better quality and less downtime.

You talked about the need to reduce operating costs and demand for computing resources. How do you reduce demand?

The first way we deal with demand is by actually understanding it. People ask for all kinds of applications, which then drive the need for all kinds of servers and system development efforts. By really understanding what people are asking for, by assigning folks to understand the business and the business processes, we get a good feel for what we ought to do. So in some cases you realize a request for 10 different systems could really be met by two systems. In some cases, if you can demonstrate how to fix a process, maybe you don't need the system at all. If you put in place platforms that allow things like collaboration, then you move away from one-off systems to deal with each request and instead build on top of these platforms. Don't have eight different CRM systems; change the business process such that you have one CRM system. Those are all techniques we're using to get across the goal line.

Other aspects of demand affect green IT, such as the demand for paper. On some printers we're making duplex the default for printing. Because people won't bother to change the default, you immediately decrease the demand for paper and for power. Those are some of the areas we look at.

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