In part one of this two-part series we discussed a few affordable, quick-start approaches to greening your nonprofit’s IT. Now we’ll look at two additional approaches that may take some initial upfront investment but will prove to provide your organization with a significant ROI if done right.
Virtualization saves money and contributes to your (multiple) bottom line as a social mission organization. So what exactly is virtualization? In short, virtualization is the ability to run multiple clients and programs from a single, energy-efficient hub. It helps green your IT by significantly cutting energy costs and reducing your data center footprint by reducing the number of physical servers you use. And that directly impacts statistics like the following that make IT, well, not “green”:
- Recent reports state that the daily power consumption of a typical datacenter is equivalent to the monthly power consumption of thousands of homes.
- The Department of Energy estimates that data-center power consumption will rise from 1.2 percent to 4 percent of all power consumption in the U.S. in the next few years.
If you're looking to go green, virtualization will require an upfront investment. The good news is that in these tough economic times, in which many IT projects are being put on hold, virtualization will almost always gets a green light because of its significant ROI and reduced TCO.
(2) Go Virtual with Your Organization (and use your technology to do it!)
About a year and a half ago I read an interesting book called The 4-Hour Workweek. The book focuses on creating a work “lifestyle” – but what proved so fascinating to me was the way it advocated so well for virtual work or telecommuting/teleworking. Sure, it’s not necessarily a new concept but it did make the case that now is the time for a virtual workforce to really take off in unprecedented ways. And according to IDC, the time is right. Seems 73% of the U.S. workforce, and 30% of the global workforce will be mobile by the year 2011.
And the benefits of embracing a virtual workforce?
- Significantly lower overhead costs
- Staff who are happier and are more productive, working longer hours
- And the environment? A virtual workforce means that organizations have a significantly smaller environmental footprint
While the prospect of lowering your organization’s overhead costs while reducing your impact on the environment makes a virtual organization an attractive option, it’s not as easy as giving notice on your office space lease. Moving to a virtual office environment is a fairly significant shift and one that needs to be planned out carefully. “We tell our clients that there are many green initiatives they can “try out” without a formal policy or program, but that telecommuting is not one of them, “ says Jennifer Woofter of Strategic Sustainability Consulting in Washington, DC (see full article here).
Telecommuting has come to be viewed by some as more a complement rather than a substitute for work in the workplace. Moving to a full-on virtual organization may be better approached by providing staff with telecommuting options and then eventually moving to a virtual existence if it makes sense.
In closing, these last two blog posts on green IT offer some information that will hopefully pique your interest in getting your organization to think about their use of IT in ways that are aligned with your values. The non-profit sector (contrary to what some may say!) is one of the most innovative sectors out there and we’re ripe to continue to raise our bar (as technology consultants and as organizations) as to how we advocate and adopt technology in our sector.
Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on green IT. I am happy to answer your questions or refer you to someone who can!