Green: Not just for Kermit and data centers anymore

IT really is getting greener, notes a new report out from Forrester Research, and now it's time for the green effort to get, well, IT-er. Forrester researchers suggest that the stimulus may spur plenty of advances to business process and strategy as well as public policy and infrastructure.

The "Mapping IT's Green Opportunities" report, released last week, doesn't dismiss what it calls "Green IT 1.0" -- the efforts to improve the energy and carbon footprints of corporate IT departments with virtualization, improved power management and the data-center-centric like. But, say the analysts, there is "a new horizon of green IT 2.0" ahead, involving both business and public concerns.

Don't mistake the landscape; in the short term, the 1.0 way is still where the ripest opportunities are -- server virtualization and other efficiency improvements, consolidation of storage and printer installations, and so forth. But just above that low-hanging fruit, Forrester sees a number of medium-ripe opportunities in everything from familiar products like teleconferencing to optimization of supply chains (a perennial enterprise interest) to optimization of road transport (with its implications for both individual businesses and the public at large).

And further still above that, you've got the whole world simultaneously trying to stanch environmental damage and resuscitate various economies. The much-discussed smart grid is on the way, and not only in the US; companies such as Accenture, Cisco, IBM and even Google are working on it, but companies with insight into integrating renewable resources and/or providing consumers with necessary usage information aren't too late to dive in.

How does a smart business get a piece of that, or at least avoid being run over by progress? The report makes various vendor suggestions for identifying potential markets, but includes some tact-heavy verbiage warning that the next generation of green will require getting more than just IT folk on board. (Work-from-home programs, for instance, are characterized as "20% about the technology and 80% about the HR and other policies to get more flexible working locations accepted in the organization.")

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