Study: Going green does pay for itself

Savings from server virtualization alone practically pay for document management, storage virtualization, and cloud computing

If there's any silver lining to the past few years of a tough economy, it's that organizations have learned firsthand the benefits of embracing greener, more efficient practices to cut costs, rather than outright eliminating valuable services. In fact, a new study conducted by O'Keefe and Company and sponsored by CDW-G has found that organizations can reap even greater returns on their sustainable IT investments by reinvesting savings into additional green-tech implementations.

Titled "The Efficient Agency," the report found that local and state government agencies throughout the United States realized returns from 134 percent to 269 percent on investments in server virtualization, document management, storage virtualization, and cloud computing. What's more, the survey found that by implementing the technologies in that order, organizations could use the savings generated by server virtualization to fund almost all of the remaining three technologies.

According to the report, 93 percent of the 303 respondents said their agencies have invested in server virtualization, with the average investment being $289,512, which in turn would reap savings of $406,386, a 140 percent return. Those savings could be invested in document management solutions -- embraced by 82 percent of organizations -- at an average costs of $495,926; the savings averaged to $688,493, a 139 percent return. Eighty percent of the surveyed agencies have implemented storage virtualization at an average upfront cost of $213,336. Expected lifetime savings here total $285,122, for a return of 134 percent. Finally, 51 percent of the respondents have turned to cloud computing, spending an average of $110,022 with average savings of around $296,427, for a return of around 269 percent.

The report doesn't detail precisely where the savings come from, but it's a safe bet that they come from reduced investments in storage and server equipment; lower energy bills thanks to decreased demand for electricity and cooling for the server room; less spending on paper, ink, postage, transport, and file storage (through document management); and more efficient use of man-hours, thanks to having fewer machines to administer, fewer physical documents to handle, and in the case of cloud computing, fewer apps and services to manage.

These investments are demonstrably well-suited to address what respondents deemed the greatest sources of inefficiency in their IT departments: 36 percent identified outdated processes and 35 percent point to outdated technology. "Lack of budget" and "lack of staff knowledge" represented the third and fourth most significant sources of inefficiency.

Technology investments alone aren't sufficient to yield efficiency gains, the report notes. Respondents said that in order to maximize efficiencies, they've had spend time educating upper management about IT; lay out long-term plans for updating technology; change organizational culture to encourage and support efficiency; and develop and update processes and procedures accordingly.

This story, "Study: Going green does pay for itself," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.