Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sustainability: So how do we break the mould?

Sitting here at the BT Centre in London where I am attending the ITU conference on ICTs and Climate Change, see http://www.itu.int/themes/climate/. The conference is focused on the challenge of climate change and the necessary steps to be taken to achieve a balance between man made emissions and a level playing field for developed and developing worlds looking forwards. Most notable during the day has been the sequence of contributions from the hosts as they have presented their results to date. A very creditable and real reduction in carbon footprint. See the presentations, via video and powerpoint, available from the website.

However, that's not the purpose of this post. I also attended the SIIA conference in Amsterdam last week (no jibes about carbon footprint this week please!). I was most impressed by the rapid evolution of SaaS and the very practical steps that people are taking to offer new services and capabilities on-line for consumption via the simple browser. Here was a genuine low-carbon conference dominated by the plans and capacities of an industry structuring itself around Infrastructure as a Service, Software as a Service, Information as a Service. The global champion in the room was Amazon Web Services, again through the person of Werner Vogels, see my previous post. But the buzz and excitement amongst attendees was palpable around the delivery of business services through these mediums. There was even a session focused on Security which was far less frightening than removing an orange folder to take your seat on a train at Waterloo Station! General consensus, this is real - and its changing the game!

So, to my point, we seem to have a created by default a product development cycle and roadmap in the computer industry which assumes: 1) that the next box will be more powerful, have more capacity and probably expend more carbon resources as a result. 2) we will fill this new box with a larger amount of software than we could ever imagine using, and thus negate the benefit of increased power and capacity and 3) will be persuaded to exchange this barely utilised resource in 3 years time because of a step function increase in processing power/storage capacity and an impressively colourful lid.

When you consider that data presented at the conference indicated that desktop pc's consume about the same energy to operate over 3 years as to manufacture initially and then the disposal will consume more, irrespective of potential/process for recycling, the question "WHY?" pops into my head. When you combine this question with the apparent potential of XaaS and perhaps a simple wireless connected browser. I begin to wonder why we are continuing on this treadmill of a roadmap and all of the inerent costs implied.

In one panel session at the ITU conference, we heard from an EC officer about increasing regulation and a trade association representative about allowing market forces to take their effect. At present, we as users, are running fast to continue to buy the newest, more powerful and therefore likely most expensive option to solving their business problem. If you believe in market forces, then I am afraid it is those of us who use systems who will need to drive this change forwards. Who's with me?

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home