by Don Willmott

Back in 2007 and 2008 I had a great time contributing to a blog about "green" technology. How invigorating and virtuous it felt to tell the world about solar panels, windmills, electric cars, and all the great new green jobs of the future. But then oil prices dropped, the economy went south, and interest in all those wonderful - but potentially expensive - technologies waned. In the end, the blog's editors pulled the plug on me, pun totally intended.

Green ITPerhaps all those green jobs are on hold for now, but there's still at least one vibrant sector in the eco-economy: green IT. The ability to design, install, and maintain systems that are smaller but as powerful as their predecessors, and that increase manageability while lowering energy costs, continues to be in great demand. A fresh survey by Forrester Research found that 47 percent of the IT professionals surveyed have green IT plans or strategies in motion, while another 30 percent are considering at least one project. Only 23 percent say they had no plans for some sort of green IT agenda.

The top three reasons given for looking into green IT: reducing energy-related operating expenses, reducing other IT operating expenses such as labor, and helping the environment. And how will those goals be achieved? By consolidating data centers (here comes virtualization again) and by rethinking PC power management. Forty-six percent of the respondents said such initiatives are already under way, and 14 percent said they'll head in this direction during 2010.

A similar Forrester survey from last fall found that 60 percent of enterprise respondents are interested or very interested in implementing green IT. That compare with 51 percent a year earlier. A Forrester analyst commented, "Despite the hesitancy about cloud computing, virtualization remains a top priority for hardware technology decision-makers, driven by their objectives of improving IT infrastructure manageability, total cost of ownership, business continuity, and, to a lesser extent, their increased focus on energy efficiency." The bottom line: Forrester projects that the $500 million spent on green IT services in 2008 will grow to $4.8 billion by 2013.

And by the way, we're behind Asia on all this. Over there, about 40 percent of companies aren't just whiteboarding green IT solutions but are already adopting major changes, such as green RFPs and shortened IT refresh cycles for energy efficient equipment, according to Info-Tech's  Global Green IT Attitude & Action survey.

My point is that green IT isn't some crunchy fad that's blowing in the wind. It's very much for real, and it's a career path with potential. (Take a look at these articles I write for Dice's Careers in Technology: careers in green IT, how to make IT environmentally friendly, and where the green jobs are.

If you still need to be convinced, spend half an hour with, a rich site filled with articles by IT experts who explain all the latest trends in efficient computing and how they are optimally implemented. Their collection of predictions for 2010 will give you ways to think about leveraging your IT talents in new directions that are in high demand. And please don't scoff at the concept, dismissing it as some flaky liberal claptrap. Remember that ultimately, green IT isn't about saving the planet. It's about saving the company money, and anyone who can do that is going to find success.