When technology vendors make big statements about being green it is generally hedged with a lot of caveats. That's because it is hard to really be green in an industry that is about large concrete bunkers and extremely intensive power demands to manufacturer silicon chips.
Things are changing, however, and the most obvious sign of that is that the latest generation of hardware often uses less energy to run and cool it than the previous generation. At the same time, this is not happening by compromising performance. Moore's law might be on the side of performance but there is an industry imperative to achieve that in a more cost efficient manner.
HP has announced its latest environmental goals as part of the HP Eco Solutions program, which was launched last year. This is a corporate plan to slash its own costs and to position itself as a market leader in the eco friendly computing space by providing power friendly solutions for its customer base.
The first part of this has been the updating of its server line. At the recent launch of seven ProLiant G6 servers built on AMD's six-core Istanbul processor, Paul Gottsegen, Vice President, Integrated Marketing, Enterprise Servers and Storage, Technology Solutions Group, HP said "these new ProLiant G6 servers use less than 50% of the power than the previous ProLiant G5 servers."
HP is claiming that by moving to its new ProLiant G6 servers customers can avoid the release of 20 billion pounds (9 billion kilograms) of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the environment – the equivalent of 1.1 billion gallons of gasoline , by replacing the rack and blade servers sold in 2005.
For the environmentally minded this might seem like a good thing. Unfortunately, many datacentres and IT teams are so strapped for cash that to rip and replace technology that is just four years old is not high on their agenda. The problem is that customers, no matter how much the industry tries to change their focus, are still more concerned with CAPEX rather than OPEX and in the current financial climate, this is unlikely to change.
However, HP is not to be defeated. A few months ago it talked about how it saw leasing as being a significant part of its sales cycle going forward and since then there has been a lot of emphasis on providing financing to customers in order to swap out older hardware.
In many ways, however, it is the goals that HP has set itself, not just for the future but the way it has achieved the original goals that were set when this program was instantiated last year. Of course, it is easy to be cynical and say that maybe the goals were too limited but at the time they didn't look that understated.
In January 2008 HP said that it planned to reduce the energy consumption of its volume desktop and notebook PC families by 25 percent by the end of 2010. It has just announced that it has already reached that goal, a full year and a half ahead of schedule.