Corporate IT initiatives to reduce environmental impact and power consumption is here for the long run. Executives are allocating time, energy and money to invest in Green initiatives. Governments are allocating research, regulations and suggesting laws toward Green Datacenter efficiency. Consumers, policy makers and industry influentials are promoting Green Datacenter models.

We didn't see laws and regulations promoted for SOA, or Agile design, or Web 2.0 or SaaS, … Ten years from now, those initiatives might not even exist, but commitments to reduce environmental impact and power consumption will continue to be important for organizations.

Many view the Green Datacenter as a product feature checklist to gain their one time win. But that is an unfortunate illusion. While new technology from the industry will help, it does not replace the ongoing architectural and process commitment needed.

Green Datacenters = An Architectural Commitment, not a product Strategy

For example, A virtualization or a blade environment product decision has the potential to reduce power consumption. But if there are no processes or architectural guidance to go with it, it can encourage server sprawl and eventually increase power consumption. And of course, increasing rack power density without a aligned cooling architecture is a recipe for datacenter disaster.

Environmental Impact and Power Consumption is becoming a crucial architectural systemic quality metric:

In the past, IT architects gave too little attention to security: Eventually suffering the consequences. Environmental Impact and Power are quickly becoming pervasive architectural issues with new initiatives.

Traditional IT Architecture Goals (motivations for the profession) Encourage IT reuse, Reduce IT Complexity, Align Stakeholders, Optimize functional and non-functional (systemic quality goals) and spend the organization's money wisely.

Architectural decision points

Reducing power consumption is obvious. Gone are the days of measuring datacenters by square foot of space. Now, datacenters are increasingly sized by mega watt. More efficient technologies with new capabilities are being promoted as the silver bullet. But energy savings is a much more complex architectural issue from architectural power management capacity planning techniques to optimizing operational processes and facilities design.

Reducing environmental impact is more challenging. But this industry initiative isn't called the power reduction initiative. It's called the Green initiative for an important reason. There is a consensus that serious negative environmental repercussions are the consequence of man made pollution. From the atmosphere to the soils and oceans, governments, partners, consumers and industry organizations want companies to have a more positive impact on the environment.

The most common environmental impact measurement is carbon footprint (usually measured in tons: from energy source and amount to manufacture and logistics operations) . How are you architecting the solution to reduce the organization's carbon impact on the atmosphere. For Architecture design: fewer systems which are more energy efficient, reducing the degree of functional decomposition in the design (doing more work with less code and systems), leveraging services from carbon neutral environments. There are many examples out there and this a growing field that will be part of the IT Architect vocabulary.

The world is changing for IT Architects and we must develop new skills. The days of architecting a system without power and environmental considerations are numbered. Just like other Architectural skills, Green metrics and vocabulary will become pervasive and we will be accountable for this important IT Architectural issue in our organizations for the long run. It's already happening.