Business Today

Wanted: Green techies

There’s a growing demand for IT experts to address environmental concerns.

Rahul Sachitanand & Saumya Bhattacharya | Print Edition: August 23, 2009

For sustainable IT: HCL's Swapan Johri (front) with his team
For sustainable IT: HCL's Swapan Johri (front) with his team

As the Director of Global Information Services for Bangalore-based Applied Materials, Nagaraj Bhat is no greenhorn in the field of IT, having seen the firm’s India centre evolve into an IT services outpost to a critical R&D unit over the past three years, Now, Bhat, a mechanical engineer and a trained business continuity pro, is taking the lead in driving Applied Materials’ Green IT thrust. The global IT organisation aims to achieve a fifth of the firm’s greenhouse gas reduction goal.

“Green IT started as a project at Applied Materials and has evolved into an integrated part of everything we do,” says Bhat. Reason? Tech companies are aggressively implementing green IT solutions as part of their offshoring contracts signed with customers.

These companies are greening themselves and then enabling ecofriendly operational and IT practices for their clients.

So, Applied Materials’ green drive now covers virtualisation, optimisation, technology refresh and unified communication and this strong focus is generating demand for a whole new line of green IT specialists. There is a growing demand for sustainability engineers, data centre management engineers, utilities and electric engineers and quality specialists. According to some industry estimates, the global technology industry consumes 1.5-2 per cent of the world’s power supply and this metric is growing at 12 per cent annually.

“Green IT is about reducing the environmental impact and increasing the sustainability of information technology,” says Mark Greenlaw, CIO for Cognizant.

As more companies and individuals get environmentally conscious and think about sustainable growth, they are ramping up their green efforts. “The focus is around hunting for people with specialised skills around energy conservation, electrical systems, battery technology and energy use,” says Ajit Issac, CEO of Ikya, a Bangalore-based HR consultancy. One such recruiter is IT services player HCL Technologies that has recently been ranked amongst the Top 10 ‘Green 50 Sourcing Vendors’ in the 2009 Green Outsourcing Survey by Brown-Wilson Group.

A ready reckoner for a green career
Who is hiring?
MNCs such as IBM, Accenture, AMD and EMC, as well as startups focussed on Green IT
Who are they hiring?
Sustainability engineers, datacentre management engineers, utilities and electric engineers and quality specialists
Skills in demand?
Besides academic credentials, additional certifications in Green IT, server and storage technologies, sustainability and electrical subsystems
What gives you the edge?
Knowledge of Green IT regulations, key political and economic drivers, understanding of energy efficiency

HCL offers a Green Datacenter Solution programme that works towards increasing energy efficiency and reducing carbon and physical footprint of datacentres while complying with government mandates.

Says Swapan Johri, Senior VP-Transformation Services, HCL Technologies Infrastructure Services Division, “HCL’s Green Datacenter Solution works on three key parameters that include Technology, Management and Facility.”

The talents required to handle these stacks ranges from professionals experienced in architecture and design of physical facility, green technology experts in virtualisation, consolidation, datacentre technology experts who have hands-on experience in hosting and migration. “We also need professionals who have immense experience in audit/ITIL practices, energy auditors, and LEED experts,” adds Johri.

In a 15,000 square feet Bangalore centre, housing 2,000 servers and 200 switches, 34-year-old Shuja Mirza is one such professional who is a member of storage giant EMC’s green initiatives. “We focus on developing solutions first in house and then transferring many of them to our customers,” he says. The focus of these solutions, he says, is to lower capex for customers and improve server and storage utilisation—pegged at 10 per cent and 30 per cent—for these companies.

To work in these fields of Green IT, a professional must understand datacentre design, power circuits, use software to improve server and storage utilisation and at the end discern the business benefits from all this.

Other segments such as semiconductor or computer chip design, too, are looking for green IT specialists. Vamsi Krishna, Senior Manager, Technical, AMD, says Green IT involves interfacing with client requirements on power consumption reduction and IT infrastructure consolidation. “As a computer chip maker, we are at the very heart of the green IT evolution,” Krishna says.

Green IT, in AMD’s case, looks across multiple areas, including chip design, desktops, servers and datacentres. “To work in Green IT, you must be able to examine a client’s IT infrastructure and put together a concrete proposal to make it more environmentally-friendly and more importantly, reduce costs,” he says.

According to Ravi Bhatia, MD, Gilbert Tweed Associates, a placement firm: “Green-friendly technology is a fairly new concept both in India and overseas. However, green offshoring in IT has started taking on a very pivotal role in current times.”Green, it seems, is the new rich for IT.

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