James Governor's Monkchips

Where is Microsoft’s Green Story

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I have decided to integrate my Greenmonk and RedMonk stuff. I will talk to the reasons why in a bit, but for now I just want to point to a blog I wrote last week- Where is Microsoft’s Green story?

The company’s new strategy seems to be… if it moves virtualise it, if it doesn’t move virtualise it anyway, and if its virtualised already then virtualise it some more and manage it. Microsoft is determined to lose a reputation for workload inefficiency, and the virtualisation story makes for great motherhood and apple crumble stuff, but would it hurt the firm to at least mention green issues in the efficiency context? A day and a half and the only conversation about greening was at the dinner table.

I continue

Microsoft likes to see itself, somewhat justifiably, as taking a long term view on things. Its technical marketing people take evident pride in eschewing what they see as the “latest fads”. Service oriented architecture (SOA) is a good example of same. While other vendors, most notably IBM, were developing the market Microsoft sat on the sidelines looking grumpy, saying ‘there is no such thing as SOA”. Three years later or so and it finally jumps on the bandwagon. For Microsoft though, virtualisation is not a fad but The Real Deal.

And yet… shouldn’t a company that prides itself on the long view be more, rather than less, obsessed with carbon emissions,efficiency and maybe even the future of the planet? Virtualisation and greener data centers make great bed-fellows, as vendors such as Cassatt are doing a great job of articulating, and with that in mind some opportunistic marketing and development would make sense. Microsoft should go and talk to US energy and utility companies and ask about bills and rebates for customers that run more effective IT operations. It could startwith PG&E, which actively recommends customers virtualise their data centers through rebates and a campaign called wecandothis.

For those that question the interest in such topics, I found it interesting that the report was picked up both at greenbang and Ecototality .


  1. I have to be ruthless about all the vendors and ask about client side efficiency too. Vista is a case in point -very CPU/RAM hungry- and even office 2007 on XP keeps the fan busy with its indexing. There is a switch to turn that off, but it is hidden in an MMC plugin you only get by unzipping the desktop search installer. As for google, they may talk about power economy, but have you noticed the power budget of the picasa screen saver?

    If the vendors cared about the power budget, they’d worry about both ends of the network, particularly when talking to enterprises, who have to pay the bills for the office as well as the datacentre.

  2. Can’t agree strongly enough Steve. We do need to start thinking about the power consumption of clients-and Vista is certainly a power hungry system. Picasa- good point.

  3. Here’s an idea: when speccing out new contracts, why not include power costs in the TCO? (This may, of course, be a stretch; I’ve never seen the “cost of risk” specified as part of TCO either, even though it is a very real business expense.)

  4. Identify withheld. I am a MSFT employee. It’s sad. We have the worlds richest man solving malaria but saying nothing about the technology waste we send to africa. Or just how much packaging we have on retail shelves or 1,000 CD’s sent to a customer who installs it once via a global image and heaves the remainder in the bin.

    Why can’t we have green packaging? Why can’t we work only with OEM’s who pledge to recycle hardware waste efficiently. the Green IT Alliance or something.

  5. Great idea Joshua- I think that’s the direction we’re heading in, to be honest. RFPs are increasingly green oriented.

    Tom- ++ on the CDs. obviously I heartily agree

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