Public, private sectors differ on 'green' efforts

Online survey finds that government managers have more knowledge of energy-efficient data centers.

Information technology workers and managers in the public sector place a slightly higher priority on switching to environmentally friendly data centers than the private sector but face more obstacles taking action, according to a new survey.

The online survey by Symantec also found that government managers have more knowledge of the concept of energy-efficient data centers. Eighty-two percent were very or somewhat familiar with the concept, compared with 75 percent of private-sector managers.

"The U.S. public sector largely does not have green polices, but we did find they are knowledgeable about what's happening," said Sean Derrington, director of storage management for Symantec.

Some 59 percent of public-sector organizations told Symantec they do not have "green" policies, and neither do 37 percent of private-sector organizations.

Money is a factor because while government managers may have the same average of 14 to 15 data centers as their private-sector counterparts, they say their overall budgets average $59 million, compared with $70 million in the private sector.

The survey found that 45 percent of government managers said switching to more energy-efficient data centers is a high priority. Eight percent called it a critical priority, and 23 percent rated it a moderate priority.

The biggest reason to switch to green data centers for those in the public sector is increasing energy efficiency. Fifty-three percent cited that reason, compared with 27 percent who said reducing hazardous chemicals is the motivation.

The numbers were slightly different than for the private sector. There, 50 percent said energy efficiency is the chief reason, and 36 percent cited hazardous chemicals.

But priorities and reasons aside, Derrington said the biggest difference between the public and private sectors is implementation. The survey found that 4 percent of public-sector organizations are implementing green data centers, and another 6 percent have just begun the process. Private-sector organizations report that 12 percent are switching to green data centers, and another 14 percent are just beginning to do it.

In the public sector, 45 percent are discussing the switch, but 37 percent said it is not being considered. "There's a difference in planning and discussing and actually doing something about that," Derrington said.

Derrington said the public sector may have a harder time justifying the investment.

Ways to go green include server consolidation and server virtualization, which means running multiple applications on a single platform.

The survey showed that government data-center managers are taking various approaches, but server consolidation is the most popular, with 71 percent identifying that as what they are trying. Server virtualization is next, used by 69 percent of those surveyed, and replacing old equipment with more energy-efficient models is the strategy for 57 percent.

Derrington said sometimes it is tough for organizations to consider server consolidation depending on how they depreciate the equipment for accounting purposes.