I got the chance to meet with Symantec’s Jose Iglesias yesterday. We had a good chat about his company and its green credentials and strategies. Iglesias is a wonderful advocate for sustainability but Symantec a firm has some way to go in that regard. He therefore sees himself as an internal, as much as an external, evangelist at this point.
Before I proceed its probably a good idea to point out that Symantec is about far more than antivirus. The firm acquired Veritas back in 2004, which brought it a bunch of enterprise file and storage management capabilities. Subsequent enterprise acquisitions filled out the portfolio. Symantec’s Green IT story is very much an enterprise play and arguably a solid sustainability product strategy could help to increase visibility for some of Symantec’s enterprise tools.
Thus for example – Symantec NetBackup PureDisk for storage deduplication could be used to cut the amount of storage and power.
One challenge for Symantec is identifying and serving the new buyers in energy reduction. Most of the firm’s traditional practitioner purchasers are not tasked with reducing the energy footprint of the products they manage….
“We sell to admins, but few get compensated on energy savings”
To which I would say… not yet.
Smart Grid as Game Changer
One major opportunity for Symantec to change the account management game there is to parlay its IT experience directly into related spaces such as Smart Grid security and asset management. I knew before the briefing that Symantec is having some early success in the Smart Grid market selling, for example, cryptography. Security is a major issue overhanging smart grid and remains a key selling point. Iglesias and I discussed Smart Grid Standards in depth – I will write that up in the near future.
I am not a fan of FUD though it certainly works. But let’s get real. In Europe for example we’re getting all excited about the need for smart grid standards to prevent tampering with our energy supply. Yet Russia could turn off a gas tap and we’d be screwed within weeks, no smart grid required.
Whichever way you look at it – energy reduction is going to be very big business indeed. The tail is starting to wag the dog.
GreenMonk has been tracking tech company CSR reporting efforts. Indeed- I am chair of SAP’s external stakeholder panel for its 2009 Sustainability Report. My colleague Tom Raftery recently noted an interesting split between the efforts of hardware and software firms when it comes to sustainability reporting –hardware companies good, software companies bad.
Sadly Symantec isn’t the exception that proves the rule (we leave that accolade to SAP). For one thing it only reports on Sustainability once every two years – pretty much an instant fail according to my Reporting taxonomy – Six Ways to Make CSR Reporting and Strategy not Suck.
Why should IT suppliers improve their efforts in CSR? The most obvious business is Requests For Proposals. Many massive tech purchasers, such as BT, won’t purchase goods or services from firms that don’t have a strong plan to reduce emissions. Then there are reputational issues. The best graduates aren’t falling over themselves to work for BP. When it comes to staff retention the latest research from Center for Creative Leadership indicates that “the more committed a company is to its corporate social responsibility initiatives, the more engaged and committed their employees are likely to be.”
We’d certainly like to see some leadership from Symantec on Sustainability Reporting.
It’s the Storage, Stupid
Iglesias showed what a propellerhead he is when he launched into the green opportunities around enterprise storage.
“I started my career as a mainframe programmer. Resources were very constrained. IT is relearning many of its roots, and we need to learn from past mistakes- that’s where the Symantec Green IT program came from.”
Let’s take RAID for example, the data protection mechanism.
“Minimise the hardware you need. With dynamic storage you don’t need RAID 5. Analyse your workloads. Humans are awful at managing data placement in storage. Software is much better adapted to that. Our products- namely Storage Foundations will identify all files- jpegs say, and drop it down to tier 3.”
Another quick storage management win is policies based on age – if you haven’t touched it in six months you probably don’t need it nearline. Iglesias said companies should use use less expensive storage, in order to attain big savings in cost and energy.
According to Iglesias The same capacity in storage takes 8 times as much energy for tier one as tier two. The delta between tier one and tier three is 1/64.
Symantec has a new CEO, Enrique T. Salem – and it will be interesting to see if he shows more or less of a commitment to sustainability than his predecessor- John W Thompson. My bet is on the
latter former. The economic opportunity for sustainability leaders is very real indeed. Smart Grid is going to be perhaps the biggest tech market ever- IBM and Cisco look like leaders, but who else is going to make the investments needed to compete with them?
disclosure: IBM and Cisco are clients