The ever-present push to be “green” in our society is one that I have viewed with a certain amount of skepticism, especially since some of the proposed “green” solutions are actually consuming more energy, albeit from a different source.
For example, a recent (August 12) issue of Processor featured an article (“How Virtualization & the Cloud Impact Environmental Monitoring”) that talks about how the processes of virtualization requires hardware systems to perform more than one task at a time—such as running a virtual system on a computer that is already running a primary operating system. This, in turn, means drawing more power and generating more heat, which requires more cooling.
“Because this added demand on the electronics may not be matched by added cooling to compensate for the additional heat generation, environmental monitoring will be more critical to make sure things don’t get too hot,” said Dave Ruede, vice president of marketing at Temperature@lert, in the article. He goes on to explain that when virtualization is added to existing equipment that is not designed specifically for the technology, temperatures can quickly rise. But when virtualization is employed on new hardware specifically designed for that purpose—“hardware that’s far more efficient and consumes less power”—environmental monitoring can continue at current levels.
Economy in power consumption, then, depends not only on upgrading software applications, but also on replacing the big (or little) iron already in place at so many insurance companies. An insurer that wants to be green by using less power—yet still wants to take advantage of the cost savings of virtualization—will simply have to fork over the cash for new servers. Are insurers poised to do that? It hardly seems likely.
First, we need to consider the fact that cloud technology and virtualization are not growing like wildfire in our industry. We are famous for getting the last byte from every piece of technology we have ever purchased (witness the green screens still seen in parts of our universe), so while it may be appealing from a public relations standpoint to get more “green” in terms of energy use, we are more likely to reason that our current operations are doing OK without the cloud.
As an industry, we are also more likely to stand on the sidelines and watch as early adopters incorporate cloud and virtualization technologies into their enterprises. If we see that our competitors are doing well with the new technologies (and hardware) then we may put it on our wish list for next year—or three years from now.
The cloud has much to offer our enterprises and our companies, but it has its price. Insurers will likely have to study this question more before they decide to pay that price. That’s just the way we do business.
Ara C. Trembly (www.aratremblytechnology.com) is the founder of Ara Trembly, The Tech Consultant, and a longtime observer of technology in insurance and financial services.
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