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UK Businesses Opting For Green Computing

Business consumption of refurbished IT equipment is moving to mainstream, and although many companies remain confused about EU legislation on equipment disposal and its impact on their business, buyers overall are becoming more informed - not only about purchasing refurbished IT equipment, but also selling their company’s redundant / end of life IT and networking assets to obtain bottom line revenue.

These are the key findings from the latest research commissioned by World Data Products Ltd., the largest independent provider and global market leader for refurbished server, storage and networking hardware solutions.

World Data Products commissioned a survey of 202 IT Directors & IT Managers in large UK enterprise organizations across the Finance, Government, Retail, Utilities and Telecommunication sectors. The research was conducted by eMedia Ltd in September and October 2006.

Refurbished IT equipment is moving to mainstream. Forty seven percent of organisations surveyed said their company uses a recycling / refurbishment specialist to dispose of redundant and end of life IT and networking equipment. However, 13% of companies surveyed said they still throw away equipment at local tip or hire a skip, which is illegal under the pending EU legislation. A third of companies (30%) use donations to charities or sell / give away equipment to employees as a means of disposal.

An encouraging 40% of organisations said they now have a formal policy in place for re-using existing IT and networking equipment. A further 25% of companies surveyed are currently using refurbished IT or networking equipment.

However, there appears to be considerable confusion over pending EU legislation, particularly the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. The Directive aims to reduce the waste arising from electrical and electronic equipment and improve the environmental performance of all those involved in the life cycle of electrical and electronic products.

When asked if they were aware of the implications of the upcoming WEEE directive on their business, 39% of respondents said they understand the directive and its implications. However, 36% said they had heard of the directive but were not entirely sure what it means for their business. A quarter of respondents (25%) said they were not aware of the implications and / or the directive and its impact on their business.

Businesses, and specifically IT Directors, are savvier when it comes to understanding the true value of their IT assets. Almost half (47%) of all respondents said they were aware that selling their company’s redundant / end of life IT and networking equipment meant they could obtain bottom line revenue and exchange for new or refurbished items.

Likewise, 53% of respondents said they were aware that refurbished IT can extend their existing equipment lifecycle and delay forced migrations and upgrades by manufacturers. More than half of respondents (54%) said they would consider using refurbished hardware for non-critical tasks, such as software testing environments.

In April 2005, World Data Products did a similar survey with London Business School with a respondent base of 70 UK IT Directors / Managers. At that time, only 10% of companies had bought more than one refurbished item and hardly any had a formal recycling/refurbishment policy. Only 12% of respondents had purchased refurbished IT equipment more than once.

The move to ‘Green Computing’ enables fulfillment of Corporate Social Responsibility whilst satisfying the ‘capital starved’ IT Director. This is made possible as a result of the strong ROI and economic benefits of buying refurbished IT equipment, using refurbishment specialists for third party maintenance to provide difficult to source parts and spares, and then selling it on to refurbished specialists when it comes to the end of its useful life.

On average, vendors promote upgrades every three years, when in reality, the true life of most hardware is closer to five years. In addition to reducing direct capital costs, there are substantial indirect savings that come from replacing hardware based on its true life, including: elimination of migration expenses, training costs, downtime and incompatibilities in infrastructure.

World Data Products provides operational savings through refurbished IT equipment that extends the useful lifecycle of hardware, enables consolidation and standardisation for operational efficiency, and allows companies to make procurements based on hardware lifecycles that are more in line with the time frames and requirements for their business.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.