Green Computing – It’s Not Easy Being Green, or Is It?

Green is “in”. People and organizations are recognizing that they can take steps to reduce their environmental impact on the Earth, and that in many cases, these steps can actually save them money. Oftentimes a platform by its very nature already provides a head start for organizations planning on green initiatives.  In addition, Interactive Intelligence has begun its own green initiatives for our employees which I’ll describe in a second blog entry. My hope is that the ideas listed here will inspire other organizations and individuals. Please bear with me as I touch on these topics—I know it is a complex area, and the limitations of the blog size prevent a lot of detail.

1/ Reduce overall hardware  – A key attribute that can help a green initiative is to source platforms that would be categorized as “all-in-one” solutions. A fortuitous side-effect of that approach is the reduction of server hardware when compared to a legacy point product system, which requires separate hardware for all components, such as the PBX, ACD, IVR, Call Recording system, Email Routing System, etc.  An all-in-one platform requires less hardware, typically resulting in reduced power consumption. Reductions in hardware in a data center can also result in reduced cooling requirements, further lowering power consumption.

2/ All software-based system – In addition to an all-in-one platform, focus on all software- based systems, which do not have to use legacy telephony cards. Using software to emulate hardware not only makes the system easier to update and more scalable, it also reduces the heat generated by the servers.  And coincidentally you’ll discover it reduces hardware costs by 30% over the old boarded systems — a nice added benefit.

3/ Virtualization – Virtualized environments can mean big savings on power consumption. We’ve looked at peripheral devices, such as a SIP Proxy, but have moved on to additional areas, testing both VMWare and Hyper-V.  Virtualization can have a significant impact on the sizing and power consumption of data centers.

4/ Location independence with remote workers – Making inroads in a data center is helpful, but another powerful change is to enable workers to work from anywhere—including working from home. Workers can handle interactions and work items without missing a beat, while supervisors and managers can view in real time their activity. Managers don’t have to feel that an out-of-sight worker is suddenly non-productive. And the at home worker doesn’t have the stress of a commute, but even more importantly, from an environmental perspective, they reduce carbon emissions by reducing the distance and time they’re on the road.  A side benefit to workers is an improved bottom line—by taking the cost of the commute out of their budget, they’ve suddenly gotten a raise without their organization having to pay out any additional money. VoIP and SIP are really key facilitators in creating a good remote work environment without any loss in functionality or supervisory capabilities.

Take a look at the technology you’re using in your organization and ask yourselves—is there a more effective way to utilize it to minimize your environmental impact? Not all steps necessarily require big changes. Over time, as more and more organizations subscribe to a “less is more” philosophy, the cumulative effect will improve our environment, and in many cases can also reduce cost.


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