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Learn to speak Non-Geek to promote Green IT

Ross O. Storey | Oct. 28, 2008
Any CIO who presents technical statistics to their CEO in these terms, will be almost instantly understood, instead of having to further explain what is a terabyte.

Anyone who has a non-technical background will always find it easier to understand complex IT subjects, if they are explained in everyday terms. Perhaps more than ever before, these challenging economic times make it crucial for CIOs to be able to effectively communicate to their CEOs and CFOs.

At a recent NCS EMC seminar on Green IT, at the beautiful Laguna National Golf & Country Club in Singapore, I was impressed by the way presenters, including Charles Koh, Senior Vice President, Trusted Source (part of IT leadership in Temasek Holdings), converted terms that would only be familiar to pointy-headed geeks into common everyday language that ordinary people including not-so-techno business executives, could comprehend.

Virtualise for the environment

NCS lead consultant, Victor Teo, started the ball rolling when he really put into perspective why it made environmental sense to virtualise computer servers. Victors slides were packed with interesting figures, but what jumped out at me was this: He said that data centres are currently huge carbon dioxide factories. Every server that is virtualized saves four tonnes of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere, which is equivalent to removing one car from our roads. Now that really grabbed my attention. Victor also said that one full rack of blade servers (20 25 servers) used enough electricity to meet the peak demand of 30 residential homes.

Visualising data storage

Then EMCs chief technical architect for Asia Pacific and Japan, Sal Fernando, grabbed the baton with his smooth and dynamic presentation. He said that working with Temaseks Charles Koh was a revelation because Charles demanded that he always explained technical issues in laymans terms. So, Sal actually went into one of HMV Singapores music stores and asked the manager to quantify his stock. Using data that Charles provided, Sal was able to explain to him that Temasek had the equivalent of 93,000 CDs worth of data.  To put this into perspective, the HMV store had 10,000 DVDs and CDs on four floors. I thought to myself, how clever was this explanation? Any CIO who presented technical statistics to their CEO in these terms, would be almost instantly understood, instead of having to further explain what a terabyte was.

Be a front row CIO

Admitting he didnt come from a strictly technical background, Charles then took the stage and made a clear and compelling statement about Green IT. He said that the IT shop in any enterprise must call the shots from the front row; Green IT must be integrated at the early planning stage, CIOs must clearly state the case to CEOs and cheer from the front about sustainability. Charles told the audience that, with EMCs help, Temasek reduced its 104 physical servers, to just 12, saving about one million Singapore dollars annually in power costs. He said he no longer had to worry about server provisioning and had not purchased a new server in the last 12 months. Nor did he expect to purchase any for the next year either.


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