If you're an IT professional, solution provider, or someone else with an interest in how to trim back the energy consumption of technology (especially if you're someone with domain expertise to contribute to the broader conversation about "green IT"), then I hope you'll join me and Energy Camp master of ceremonies James Governor (blog) for Energy Camp in Las Vegas on April 28 (just prior to the start of Interop). Registration is free and it gets you a coveted hall pass into Interop, too.Like our other camps Mashup Camp and Startup Camp (the next one is May 4-5 in San Francisco, sign up here) Energy Camp (www.energycamp.org) will, at its heart, be an unconference. The reason is to slow down the one-way dialogue around energy savings (which is primarily solution providers fighting for green mindshare), take a breath, and get a multilateral dialogue going around issues related to energy-saving information technology.
For example, I don't know about you, but for me, it's almost impossible to parse through all the noise and figure out how to compare solutions in any given IT sector. Everyone speaks a different green dialect and I often suspect that this is by design. If, for example, one solution provider's vernacular gets more traction than another's, the former gets to set the agenda for the sector.
I'm reminded of how, through the '80s and '90s, Novell was able to set the agenda for the network operating system (NOS) discussion: speed. IPX as a protocol was way faster than anything out of the SMB/NetBIOS camp (IBM, Microsoft, and DEC) and Novell had the IT community convinced that your LAN wasn't worth a hill o' beans unless it was faster than lightning. As a former benchmarker of NOS performance, I now realize what a joke that was. Especially now that so many LANs run over plain old IP instead. Nevertheless, Novell got to set the agenda and its fortunes grew until internal conflict about how to deal with Redmond sent the company on a downward spiral that it is still trying to recover from today. While it lasted, though, it was clever marketing, and I see the same thing happening in the energy-savings space.
The word green alone is already meaningless (and here, even I've already used it). I was recently reminded of this by one of the few PR people whose instincts and intellect I really admire (who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent). He told me that we all like to think that the Earth's sustainability can motivate IT purchasing decisions. But in reality, the almighty bottom line is what counts most. "Hardly any organization" he told me, "buys so-called green technology just to be green. They buy it because it's good for the bottom line."
Likewise, solution providers will tell you about how green their technologies are. It's as if they've suddenly turned into a bunch of philanthropists looking out for the Earth's well-being. But for every so-called green solution they have to offer, there are three or four relatively ungreen solutions. That's because those ungreen solutions are good for the bottom line, too. Just in a different, revenue-driven sort of way. Hey, there's still a market for Hummers. Get the picture?
By the way, I drive a GMC Yukon right now and am embarrassed to say so. It's a pig. I can't afford to destroy it before replacing it, and selling it to someone else won't get it off the road. So, my wife and I will drive it into its grave and our next vehicle will be a hybrid of some sort. So, we as a family are committed to change. But I wonder about the people buying new Hummers. What are they thinking?
That's why we're calling this Energy Camp. We could have called it Green Camp or Green whatever. But, if we're going to keep the conversation real, then let's cut to the chase, even with the event's name. It's about running whatever technology you run in a more energy-efficient fashion because ultimately, that's good for the bottom line. And maybe, as Sun's Jonathan Schwartz has said, it's the neighborly thing to do so you don't need all of the rooftop space your building has to offer for your own HVAC systems (this is in fact a big problem in places like New York City).
It's also about the conversation. Today, there is no conversation. There's just "you should buy so and so because it's green: [add vendor specific green lexicon here.]" Energy Camp is the only open, live forum where the dialogue can flow in the other direction, too. Isn't it time the solution providers got to hear you, too? Isn't it time that technologists get to set the agenda (in true unconference style)?
So, what are your next steps? Our camps have always turned into forums for vibrant discussion, but they can't be that without one important thing: you. So, start by registering. Then, regardless of who you are, if you have information about energy-saving IT to share with other like-minded people (about methodologies, approaches, organizations, or even solutions -- yes, even you vendors and consultants can freely put information about your offerings on the Energy Camp wiki), what are you waiting for? There's energy to be saved. And, yes, of course, a planet to sustain.
I hope to see you soon.