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At this rate the world will be green in a decade

Not a day goes by that I do not hear from yet another storage or server vendor that their offering, whatever it is, is green. This mania started about a year ago in earnest. Prior to that, the green movement was pretty much restricted to organizations outside of the computer industry. So, what is really going on? What has caused every software and hardware company to suddenly formulate a green message.

I have a theory, and you heard it here first. I think there is a fundamental grassroots movement towards green that has started in the U.S. and it is picking up momentum like no other I have seen in thirty years. This moment is more powerful than the Presidential elections and other important matters facing the country. It is bigger than Exxon and Mobile. It is bigger than GM and Ford. For years, the debate has been raging about global warming. No matter which side of the debate you place yourself, the green movement has begun. And because now it is becoming fashionable, every company in every industry will feel the need to do something “green.” I believe we are now in the phase 1 of this movement. In phase 1, each company takes stock of what they have in their product line and extracts what they can of a green message. Granted most, if not all of these companies had never thought of any of their products in terms of green before. Not in product development and not in marketing. Of course, good design practices prevailed and many resulted in lower power usage or smaller packaging but they were hardly ever viewed within the context of green. So, in Phase 1, what we are seeing is a recasting of the company message incorporating green.

I see it every day. Sometimes I laugh when I see a storage company twisting and turning its message to incorporate green. Even to the point that more than one company has stated to me that they are so green that even their logo has green in it. Give me a break. The logo was done years ago when green was equated to the color of a person’s face when they saw a ghost.

But I frankly don’t care.

I am thrilled just to see the storage companies participate in the green movement. So what if 75% of what I see today is recasting of a message relating to an older product. So what if Manhattan’s energy and space crunch started the ball rolling. I think once the company is committed to the green message they will design their next product accordingly. They can’t escape it. That is why I believe the green movement will have a genuine impact in the next five years. Let the companies play the game. Play along with them. Give them slack for now. Because once they are in, they are in. I love it.

Before you think that there is nothing real in the products today let me restate something. There are technologies that have hit the market in the past three years that are making a serious green impact. Data deduplication is one such technology. It has hit the market on the secondary storage side first, that is, applied to backup/restore and archiving markets. When used in appropriate ways, one can reduce the amount of disk required by a factor of 20. No matter which way you look at it, 1 TB of storage uses a lot less power and requires a lot less cooling than 20 TB. Thin provisioning is another good example. I chose these examples to illustrate a point: it is not simply hardware technologies that deliver green. In fact, at Taneja Group we believe software will play a huge part in the greening of storage and servers. Not to say that hardware wouldn’t play a role. Look at Copan’s MAID technology, for instance. Or IBM and HP’s blade server technology. New techniques for airflow through racks, nanotechnology and new data center designs will all contribute. But, we believe the impact of software technologies will dominate, especially with installed hardware.

Green will soon become a competitive advantage. Because of the financial implications, real change will occur. Soon even the Mobiles and the Exxons will have to yield to the pressure. That is how strong grassroots movements are. I believe the time is here. And I couldn’t be happier.

Note: Recently Taneja Group wrote a Technology In Depth paper on this topic. If you would like a copy please send a request through

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Software contributes to the green movement as well -- think virtualization, a way to combine services onto fewer servers. The idea that software is an integral aspect of the 'greening' of the data center is catching on. Read about SOA and conservation.