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Dell launches its 2020 Legacy of Good Plan

Dell water bottle

Yesterday (Oct 15th 2013) Dell published their 2020 Legacy of Good Plan. In this plan they commit to

leaving a positive, measurable, and lasting contribution to out planet and our society.

Lofty goals indeed, but what about some of the more concrete specifics? Well Dell has published 21 concrete goals with an end-date of 2020 by which they have to achieve them.

The goals cover three distinct categories, Environment, People and Communities.

The Environmental goals include:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our facilities and logistics operations by 50%
  • Reduce the energy intensity of our product portfolio by 80% and
  • Ensure 100 percent of Dell packaging is either recyclable or compostable

The People goals include:

  • Increase university hiring to a rate of 25 percent of all external hiring
  • Engage 40 percent of our global Dell team in employee resource groups by 2020 and
  • Achieve 75 percent favorable responses (or higher) in team member satisfaction globally as measured through the annual employee satisfaction survey

While the two Community goals are:

  • Engage 75 percent of team members in community service by 2020 and provide 5 million cumulative hours of service to the communities in which we live and work and
  • Apply our expertise and technology in underserved communities to help 3 million youth directly and support 10 million people indirectly to grow and thrive

The goals are all extremely laudable and measurable, and Dell has committed to transparency in the process. It will be interesting to watch Dell’s progress with the plan, especially as we come closer to the end-date 2020.

Dell claims to have worked closely with its customers in formulating this plan, but according to this Twitter conversation, not all Dell’s customers are on-board, as yet

An obvious goal missing from the People section would be to increase the number of female executives in the organisation, though Dell is already one of the top US companies for executive women. No harm to have written goals for this too though.

Finally while discussing this initiative with David Lear, Dell’s Executive Director of sustainability programs, I asked him what was going to happen to this program given Dell’s move from being a publicly traded to a privately owned company. He responded that because the plan was generated in consultation with Dell’s customer base, those customer’s were unlikely to change significantly after the privatisation, and Dell’s commitment to them wouldn’t change either.

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Sustainability, social media and big data

The term Big Data is becoming the buzz word du jour in IT these days popping up everywhere, but with good reason – more and more data is being collected, curated and analysed today, than ever before.

Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter announced last week that Twitter is now publishing 500 million tweets per day. Not alone is Twitter publishing them though, it is organising them and storing them in perpetuity. That’s a lot of storage, and 500 million tweets per day (and rising) is big data, no doubt.

And Facebook similarly announced that 2.5 billion content items are shared per day on its platform, and it records 2.7 billion Likes per day. Now that’s big data.

But for really big data, it is hard to beat the fact that CERN’s Large Hadron Collider creates 1 petabyte of information every second!

And this has what to do with Sustainability, I hear you ask.

Well, it is all about the information you can extract from that data – and there are some fascinating use cases starting to emerge.

A study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene found that Twitter was as accurate as official sources in tracking the cholera epidemic in Haiti in the wake of the deadly earthquake there. The big difference between Twitter as a predictor of this epidemic and the official sources is that Twitter was 2 weeks faster at predicting it. There’s a lot of good that can be done in crisis situations with a two week head start.

Another fascinating use case I came across is using social media as an early predictor of faults in automobiles. A social media monitoring tool developed by Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business can provide car makers with an efficient way to discover and classify vehicle defects. Again, although at early stages of development yet, it shows promising results, and anything which can improve the safety of automobiles can have a very large impact (no pun!).

GE's Grid IQ Insight social media monitoring tool

GE have come up with another fascinating way to mine big data for good. Their Grid IQ Insight tool, slated for release next year, can mine social media for mentions of electrical outages. When those posts are geotagged (as many social media posts now are), utilities using Grid IQ Insight can get an early notification of an outage in its area. Clusters of mentions can help with confirmation and localisation. Photos or videos added of trees down, or (as in this photo) of a fire in a substation can help the utility decide which personnel and equipment to add to the truckroll to repair the fault. Speeding up the repair process and getting customers back on a working electricity grid once again can be critical in an age where so many of our devices rely on electricity to operate.

Finally, many companies are now using products like Radian6 (now re-branded as Salesforce Marketing Cloud) to actively monitor social media for mentions of their brand, so they can respond in a timely manner. Gatorade in the video above is one good example. So too are Dell. Dell have a Social Media Listening Command Centre which is staffed by 70 employees who listen for and respond to mentions of Dell products 24 hours a day in 11 languages (English, plus Japanese, Chinese, Portugese, Spanish, French, German, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and Korean). The sustainability angle of this story is that Dell took their learnings from setting up this command centre and used them to help the American Red Cross set up a similar command centre. Dell also contributed funding and equipment to help get his off the ground.

No doubt the Command Centre is proving itself invaluable to the American Red Cross this week mining big data to help people in need in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

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HP joins ranks of microserver providers with Redstone

Redstone server platform

The machine in the photo above is HP’s newly announced Redstone server development platform.

Capable of fitting 288 servers into a 4U rack enclosure, it packs a lot of punch into a small space. The servers are System on a Chip based on Calxeda ARM processors but according to HP, future versions will include “Intel? Atom?-based processors as well as others”

These are not the kind of servers you deploy to host your blog and a couple of photos. No, these are the kinds of servers deployed by the literal shedload by hosting companies, or cloud companies to get the maximum performance for the minimum energy hit. This has very little to do with these companies developing a sudden green conscience, rather it is the rising energy costs of running server infrastructure that is the primary motivator here.

This announcement is part of a larger move by HP (called Project Moonshot), designed to advance HP’s position in the burgeoning low-energy server marketplace.

Nor is this anything very new or unique to HP. Dell have been producing microservers for over three years now. In June and July of this year (2011) they launched the 3rd generations of their AMD and Intel based PowerEdge microservers respectively.

And it’s not just Dell, Seamicro has been producing Atom-based microservers for several years now. Their latest server, the SM10000-64 contains 384 processors per system in a 10U chassis with a very low energy footprint.

And back in April of this year Facebook announced its Open Compute initiative to open-source the development of vanity free, low cost compute nodes (servers). These are based on Intel and AMD motherboards but don’t be surprised if there is a shift to Atom in Open Compute soon enough.

This move towards the use of more energy efficient server chips, along with the sharing of server resources (storage, networking, management, power and cooling) across potentially thousands of servers is a significant shift away from the traditional server architecture.

It will fundamentally change the cost of deploying and operating large cloud infrastructures. It will also drastically increase the compute resources available online but the one thing it won’t do, as we know from Jevons’ Paradox, is it won’t reduce the amount of energy used in IT. Paradoxically, it may even increase it!

Photo credit HP

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Friday Green Numbers round-up 05/28/2010

Green numbers

Photo credit Unhindered by Talent

And here is this week’s Green numbers:

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Tech company sustainability reports reviewed – Updated

Corporate Social Responsibility
Original photo by ATIS547

I was asked on Twitter recently where to find a list of links to tech companies’ CSR reports.

I didn’t know where to find one, so I built one and as well as just the links, I also added in a few extra observations I noted about the reports.

[table id=4 /]

As previously reported here, the 2009 SAP Sustainability Report is superb.

Another company in the list worthy of note is BT, whose report, despite the lack of interactivity, is the only other report to hit the GRI A+ rating.

HP’s site has gone heavy on design to the detriment of usability which is unfortunate because some of the content is really good.

After that, almost all of the companies who have a 2009 report published have done a really good job. The exception to this is Microsoft whose 2009 report, while an improvement on previous reports, still has a long way to go to approach a professional CSR Report standard.

Of the companies who have yet to publish their 2009 report, Oracle and Adobe’s 2008 reports are lacklustre attempts, at best. Neither report to GRI standards and both are long on pretty pictures and short on relevant data.

Having said that, at least Oracle and Adobe are producing Sustainability reports.

The three laggards in this list are Google, Amazon and Apple – none of whom are producing sustainability reports at the minute.

In their defence, Google has its Going Green at Google website and Apple has its Apple and the Environment site, both of whom go into considerable detail on each companies initiatives. In Apple’s case, it does go deep into a lot of the data you would normally see in a Sustainability report. Why it refuses to produce a formal report is beyond me.

In contrast, Amazon’s attempt at an Environmental site/page is an embarrassment. If this is the best they can do, honestly, they’d be better off doing nothing.

One issue I noted was that HP, Cisco and Apple [PDF] all report on sourcing 100% renewable power in Ireland. This is not possible for the reasons I outlined in this post.

What other companies should I add to this list? Please feel free to suggest any in the comments and I will update the list.

UPDATES:
Since publishing this, Nokia have brought out their excellent 2009 report and it is now included above.
Also, based on suggestions received on FaceBook I have added details about 3 other companies (NEC, Fujitsu and Indra Sistemas). It was also suggested there that I go over various telco companies CSR reports. I’ll leave that to a separate post.

You should follow me on twitter here.

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Cloud Energy Consumption: Google, Twitter and the Systems Vendors

Yesterday Tom posed a question: just how green is cloud computing? We have been frankly disappointed by Cloud computing providers reticence to start publishing numbers on energy consumption. We know for sure that energy is a big deal when it comes to the huge data centers the likes of Facebook are building- these firms are siting data centers next to rivers to take advantage of hydro-electric power, and in Google’s case are even looking at building their own wind turbine farms.

Some of you may remember the huge fuss when Alex Wissner Gross, a researcher from Harvard University estimated how much energy the net consumed, which became a Sunday Times story about Google Searches in terms of kettles boiled. The story claimed:

performing two Google searches from a desktop computer can generate about the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle” or about 7g of CO2 per search

Perhaps surprisingly, Google responded, to debunk the news story:

In terms of greenhouse gases, one Google search is equivalent to about 0.2 grams of CO2.

The story petered out- which is somewhat of a shame. A real, open debate, with shared figures, bringing in all of the main players, would clearly benefit us all. With that in mind I was pleased to see that one of Raffi Krikorian, tech lead of the Twitter API team, chose to talk about power/tweet at the company’s Chirp developer conference last week:

In summary, Raffi estimated that energy consumed is around 100 Joules per tweet.

Before jumping to a conclusion that Twitter is more efficient than Google its important to note that Raffi’s estimates, unlike Google’s, don’t include the power of the PC in the equation. You should also watch the video of his presentation – for the simple reason that Raffi seems to channel Jay-Z in his presenting: the guy’s body language is straight out of a hip hop video.

I discussed Twitter’s “disclosure” with my colleague Tom this morning. He questioned its value because its an estimate, rather than a measurement. He has a point. It may be however that Raffi is just the man to take this debate to the next level. He is clearly deeply technical, can think at the level of the isolated API – and is finally a Sustainability advocate of note- I first heard of him through his seminal How Valentine’s Day Causes Global Warming riff.

We need to encourage competition on the basis of power efficiency.

I’d like to close with a call to action. Surely its time for the major web players to get together with Dell, HP and IBM in order to agree standards so we can move from estimates to measurements of Cloud energy consumption, perhaps using AMEE ($client) as a back end for standard benchmarks. You can’t have sustainability through obscurity. Open data is key to working through the toughest environmental challenges.

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Energy and Sustainability show for March 15th

We had a couple of snafu’s on the show today. At the beginning of the show we had some calendaring confusion and a couple of people watching last week’s show thinking it was the live one!

Then I had a close call at the end of the show when I thought I had stopped broadcasting but left the camera and mic on inadvertently! While it is true I uttered an expletive, at least I didn’t do a Nellgate on it!!!

Here is the chatstream from the show:

Tom Raftery :
Hi everyone

?16?:?33
monkchips :

have i been watching last week’s show?
nice

?16?:?34
yellowpark :

hahaha

?16?:?34
monkchips :

well change the recurring calendar entry then …
?
16?:?34
Tom Raftery :

http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/313715,11-siberian-tigers-starve-to-death-at-chinese-zoo.html
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/03/chile-earthquake-moved-entire-city-10-feet-to-the-west
http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2010/03/the_challenges.html
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE62E14Z20100315
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/10/spain-barcelona-snow
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/11/juanita-goggins-dead-once_n_495498.html
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/03/nokia-moving-into-kinetically-charged-cell-phones-files-new-patent.php
http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-20000430-54.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=GreenTech
?
16?:?43
Joe :

some sense from the auto industry at last…
?
16?:?43
MikeTheBee :

Hi Tom, oh, no date display today?
?
16?:?43
Tom Raftery :

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/03/new-charging-method-could-mean-exponentially-faster-battery-recharge-times.php
http://www.nytimes.com//2010/03/12/opinion/12chase.html
http://www.grist.org/article/death-of-a-thousand-cuts

?16?:?47
monkchips :

Smith Electric Vehicles Eyes Road to an IPO http://bit.ly/b76p5F #logistics #WAYmoreinterestingthantesla
never mind Tesla, a logistics EV IPO!
?
16?:?48
Tom Raftery :

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/03/cisco-saves-over-24-million-with-packaging-diet.php
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/03/dell-launches-most-efficient-desktop-computer-to-date.php
http://www.viridity.com/blog/bid/36035/Top-7-Reasons-to-Remove-Orphan-Servers-from-the-Data-Center-Floor
http://www.ceres.org/ceresroadmap
http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/pn10_042/pn10_042.aspx
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/mar/15/rbs-blinded-by-spin

?16?:?52
Ian B :

UK still has lead in wave and tide development – but for how long?

?16?:?53
MikeTheBee :

Ireland are working hard to take the lead.
?
16?:?53
Tom Raftery :

http://blogs.msdn.com/mspowerutilities/archive/2010/03/11/let-s-call-the-smart-grid-what-it-is-disruptive.aspx

?
16?:?54
Ian B :

Yeah should have said UK and Ireland
?
16?:?55
Tom Raftery :

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/mar/15/bp-shell-tar-sands-green-energy

?
16?:?56
monkchips :

this is the same company claims 70% of its employees are workin on cloud…?
?
16?:?57
Tom Raftery :

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tech-transport/trash-wifi-afghanistan.html
?
16?:?57
monkchips :

superb!
?
16?:?58
Tom Raftery :

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/hereford/worcs/8562434.stm

?16?:?58
Ian B :

Too right
?
16?:?58
Tom Raftery :

http://www.fastcompany.com/1575650/cleveland-mall-gets-a-new-life-as-a-giant-greenhouse
?
16?:?58
MikeTheBee :

But all his family keep the money
?
16?:?59
Tom Raftery :

http://www.avaaz.org/en/protect_the_elephants/
?
17?:?00
MikeTheBee :

No date stamp today?, Tom
np
He made 45mill
Thx Tom.
?
17?:?02
Tom Raftery :

Thanks everyone for your comments and interest
?
17?:?03
Ian B :

Thanks Tom
?
17?:?03
monkchips :

nice close! “oh fuck!”#
?
17?:?03
MikeTheBee :

I still find it strange that when I am *not* logged into Zoho chat the links are clickable, but after I log in they are not. Wierd or what.
?
17?:?04
monkchips :

dont have a hand shandy there tom, you’re still broadcasting…
?
17?:?04
MikeTheBee :

You are still *LIVE* Tom
?
17?:?05
monkchips :

how long are you over for? which show is it?
?
17?:?06
MikeTheBee :

THE END!
?
17?:?06
Tom Raftery :

LOL!!!
Thanks guys

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NightWatchman saving energy

Night Watchman

Photo credit officer2975

Following on from my earlier post about the importance of turning things off, we had a briefing the other day from a company called 1E.

1E entered the power management space about 10 years ago when they wrote NightWatchman. NightWatchman is a PC power management application which aims to reduce the energy wasted by computers not being turned off at the end of the working day.

They were well ahead of the market (remember, they started 10 years ago, long before there was any power management built into the operating system) and, in fact, they had a hard time selling NightWatchman until about three years ago.

NightWatchman is now deployed on 4 million PCs worldwide savingcustomers US $360 million in energy costs and preventing 3 million tons of CO2 emissions, according to 1E.

As an interesting aside, the name NightWatchman came from the fact that the software was originally written for a company who had a security guard going around at night turning off computers and monitors! In fact, in the first seven years it was sold as a security and patching tool (it would allow companies to shut off computers in the evening and schedule a window in the middle of the night during which the computers would power up to download any security updates and patches which had been released).

In their whitepaper, entitled ?Why Power Schemes are not Enough?? [PDF] 1E make a great point –

It is impossible to monitor and report on the energy used by your PC estate (and therefore the cost and CO2 emissions this causes) using only the built-in tools that come with Windows. Because of the lack of built-in monitoring of energy usage, organizations are unaware of the lack of effectiveness of Windows sleep timers.

Windows power schemes should therefore not be used as the mechanism for reliable overnight and weekend energy saving for PCs.

Dell rolled out NightWatchman and wrote a white paper on the experience [pdf] – from the case study:

1E NightWatchman software saves files and closes applications and shuts down or places into sleep mode computers in the Microsoft Windows environment while preventing data loss and application errors. It also allows computers to be turned off from a central location, at a specified time, while providing extensive reports for management.

NightWatchman works with SMSWakeUp, which repowers computers in synchronization with Microsoft SMS. Administrators can boot computers from a centralized command so they can deploy security patches or new applications during off-hours.

By deploying 1E?s NightWatchman and SMSWakeUp applications to its 50,000 client computers, Dell expects to realize up to a 40 percent reduction in computer-related energy costs, which could translate into US$1.8 million in savings annually.

AT&T also installed 1E and from the release on AT&T’s rollout [PDF] it said:

[AT&T] is launching the NightWatchman? PC power management solution from 1E on 310,000 desktop computers across its domestic operations to help improve energy efficiency. Powering down corporate PCs during non-work hours is expected to save AT&T more than 135 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year and eliminate 123,941 tons of carbon dioxide emissions ? equivalent to the electricity required to power 14,892 homes.

1E also have a server version of their NightWatchman software – this program identifies under-utilised servers, allowing them to be either re-deployed or decommissioned – fewer servers means less energy consumed by server sprawl. NightWatchman Server also has an energy management component built-in which has the added benefit of reducing heat from servers and therefore the air conditioning load in data centers required to cool the servers.

All of this means less energy costs and fewer CO2 emissions for companies. Go 1E!

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Corporate Social Responsibility – tech companies reviewed!

Corporate Social Responsibility

According to its Wikipedia definition, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

is a concept whereby organizations consider the interests of society by taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, communities and other stakeholders, as well as the environment. This obligation is seen to extend beyond the statutory obligation to comply with legislation and sees organizations voluntarily taking further steps to improve the quality of life for employees and their families as well as for the local community and society at large.

Companies are now starting to report on their Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives in greater numbers. Drivers for this include the rise in ethical consumerism, socially responsible investing, employee recruitment and loyalty, changing laws and regulations, increased scrutiny and transparency and risk mitigation.

According to the Sustainable Investment Research Analyst’s (SIRAN) 2008 report (pdf warning):

  • 86 of the S&P 100 companies now have corporate sustainability websites, compared to 58 in mid-2005, an increase of 48 percent;
  • 49 of the leading U.S. companies produced a sustainability report in 2007, an increase of 26 percent from 39 in 2005

In an attempt to define standards and make these reports cross-comparable, the Global Reporting Initiative has come up with a sustainability reporting framework. According to Wikipedia:

The GRI Guidelines are the most common framework used in the world for reporting. More than 1000 organizations from 60 countries use the Guidelines to produce their sustainability reports.

A quick search of tech sites reveals:
IBM’s stellar Corporate Responsibility site – IBM’s site has a ton of good information and a downloadable CSR report (pdf) and includes the Global Reporting initiative (GRI) index. If there is a tech company with a better CSR site than this, please tell me, I haven’t found it yet!

From the Dell site you can see dell has been producing Sustainability reports back to 1998 (called Environment reports back then). The 2008 CSR report (pdf) is linked to from the company Values page and is a really good example of how to do these reports well.

SAP’s Sustainability site is pretty bare bones (and though found by Google, I couldn’t find a link to it on the corporate website! Having said that, their Sustainability report (pdf), linked to from their Sustainability site, is very good for a first effort. It includes a GRI index and while SAP admit that the report is prepared to GRI Application Level C, they give a commitment to producing a “report to GRI B+ standard externally assured and audited in second quarter 2009″.

Cisco’s CSR site includes a great 5 minute video on CSR from Cisco CEO John Chambers and some of his CSR related staff. Unfortunately the video is not embeddable and is all rights reserved or I would embed it here :-( Cisco’s CSR 2008 report is available in a Flash interactive version or the more traditional (and easier to consume) pdf version! Again this report has a GRI index included.

Sun’s excellent CSR site includes a podcast, lots of great links to relevant information and its superb 2008 CSR report (pdf) – again with the GRI index data.

Oracle also has a good CSR site. Oracle’s site links to its 2008 Corporate Citizenship report (pdf) but it doesn’t include a GRI index link.

HP’s Global Citizenship site looks good until you check out their CSR report – it dates to financial year 2007 (which ended October 31, 2007). In its defense, it does include a GRI index but guys, come on, 2007?

Neither Intel nor AMD have reports for 2008. But while Intel have a very comprehensive downloadable pdf report on their CSR initiatives for 2007, the AMD offering consists of a disappointing four tables of performance indicators across the last few years.

If you are looking for Microsoft’s CSR report, you will find it buried under Resource Center -> Awards and Reports -> now click on the Reports tab on their Corporate Citizenship site. The most recent report is dated 2007-08. It is a 5 page document of mostly images, there is no mention whatsoever of GRI, there is no executive involvement, and in comparison to previous years reports, it looks like Microsoft’s limited focus on CSR has waned completely.

Having said that, at least Microsoft has produced a report! Apple didn’t even do that. When As You Sow, recently tabled a shareholder resolution that would require Apple to publish a corporate social responsibility (CSR) report, The company issued a proxy filing asking shareholders to vote against this resolution, saying that the publication would be an unnecessary expense that would “produce little added value.”

Having said that, at least Apple have a section on their site dedicated to their environmental efforts, Amazon don’t even appear to do that. Their filed reports page makes no effort to include any reports about environmental stewardship or corporate citizenship although given the story which came out before Christmas about Amazon’s shocking employment practices, that can hardly be any surprise.

Ironically Google’s CSR efforts are supremely difficult to find! They do have a corporate website dedicated to their Green Initiatives but like Apple, they too don’t have any CSR report (that I could find!).

Who’d I miss? Who is better? Who is worse?

Original photo by ATIS547