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Accenture Aims to Measure IT's Carbon Footprint

Accenture has introduced a set of services called the Accenture Green Technology Suite for analyzing an IT infrastructure and showing the impact that changing the datacenter's configuration can have on the overall power use and "carbon footprint."

The consulting giant typically looks at three factors when examining a customer's datacenter: cost reduction, increasing service levels or mitigating risk. This suite adds a fourth dimension to the test by looking at how green technologies can have an impact on cost, risk or service levels.

"It enables us to essentially craft a green IT roadmap to allow the client to take steps to not only reduce the carbon footprint but also take costs out of the environment," said Rockwell Bonecutter, managing partner for datacenter technology and operations practice at Accenture.

Bonecutter said there are plenty of tools for examining the impact of making changes to a datacenter, such as virtualization or new cooling techniques. The Accenture Green Technology Suite adds a new dimension in that it shows the financial impact of such changes, so companies can see where they are saving money and what changes are useless.

"These tools let you say to the board or head of IT 'this is the impact to the bottom line, this is the financial impact, this is the impact to risk in the environment'," Bonecutter told InternetNews.com.

A lot of times, projects like virtualization and server consolidation don't have a clear payoff and it takes time for the return on investment to manifest. The Green Technology Suite has a dashboard that shows in real time what the power and financial savings would be, so as a person adjusts their datacenter mix, they can see the impact on their bottom line.

The suite has power information for a wide variety of enterprise IT hardware, like IBM and HP servers, cooling devices, switches and other equipment found in a datacenter. Each piece has a power rating, so as you shuffle gear and play what-if scenarios with the gear, you can find the sweet spot for both power and dollar efficiency.

"It really empowers you to say as an IT exec 'I need x amount of dollars, this is why I need it,' and say with confidence when you will be net cash flow positive because of these changes you will introduce," said Bonecutter. "It also lets you avoid chasing things down a rathole on implied savings. People think virtualization is automatic savings, but in some cases it's hard to quantify it."

The Accenture Green Technology Suite consists of three parts:

- Accenture Green Maturity Model, which includes 300 questions focused on evaluating a company's practices, equipment, policies and environment. The data is then turned into a score card to evaluate the company's power efficiency and carbon footprint, which can then be compared against other firms.

- The Data Center Estimator, which does the what-if scenarios to determine energy reduction strategies related to cooling, power distribution and IT infrastructure power requirements.

- The Workplace Estimator, which is similar to the Data Center Estimator except that it looks at the individual employees of a company to evaluate their work habits, technology recycling, travel policy changes and more. It can be used to adopt a green agenda in the company and implement energy saving policies.

The Accenture Green Technology Suite is available now. Contact Accenture for a price estimate; cost varies depending on company size. A free "Green Maturity Assessment" tool is available here.