Thanks to his business background, Sumit Chowdhury, CIO, Reliance
Communications tends to emphasise and highlight the RoI of every decision that
he embarks upon. This approach has helped him bring about major changes at one
of the largest telecom companies in India and in the world, since not many can
dispute against a great business case. Herein he shares his views on green and
what are the changes wrought by him and how. Excerpts
Has green IT moved beyond the hype?
The chief reason for the hype around green was because of the affordability
factor; unfortunately we did not have the technology available at an affordable
cost. But over the past 5-6 years we have seen a dramatic improvement in the
technologies that allow us to implement green IT initiatives within the company
without really breaking our back. RoI for green IT initiatives has come down
significantly; therefore it does not need to be sold anymore to management. We
achieve green because we are moving to better technology, by lowering our
consumption of power by better usage of space, cooling, infrastructure in
various ways. The fact is that technology has improved to make green IT a
reality today. It is something that I can do as a CIO; earlier most of us were
just talking about and around it.
Can you list down the green initiatives taken by you at Reliance
For over one year, there has been a specific mandate for reducing
power/energy consumption across the board at Reliance Communications. Since we
are one of the largest telecom players in India our infrastructure is spread
across the place, so we have tens of thousands of towers which consume power, we
have buildings and offices across the country, and numerous data centers. All
these are major guzzlers of power. We have taken several steps to reduce the
consumption of power, for instance in the towers we discovered that by merely
reducing the time difference between the battery shutdown and the diesel or
petrol generator start-up by say five minutes, we saved immense amount of
energy. We are switching off all PCs automatically; we are also in the process
of installing power management solutions in our data centers that will switch
off unused servers. We are moving into a virtualized environment; currently our
development and testing servers are virtualized. We are also in the process of
consolidation; we aim to consolidate our five data centers into one. We are also
making a gradual shift to thin clients.
Is it hard to arrive at a positive RoI for green?
On the contrary, it is the most easy and obvious. For someone making a
business case, it all boils down to the fact, as to what is the TCO of the
investment. In green, the amount of capex is usually offset by the reduction in
opex, thus by arriving at the calculation, it provides a strong business case.
To be honest, green is no more a costly and fashionable trend, it is a by
product of good economics. In todays ecosystem, we have reached a stage where
we achieve green just by choosing the right technology,
Could IT be the driver of green within the organization?
Of course, there are many departments that can take a lead on green within
companies, it could be the administration that is directly responsible for the
power consumption, there could be the investor relations, there could be the HR.
Personally, I believe that since IT plays a major role in terms of pollution
caused by consumption of energy by the scores of servers and desktops, there is
the bigger onus on us to drive the green agenda. And since the battle for green
is fought on a technology front; we are best equipped to take charge.