Viewpoint: Code is crucial

E&T recruits some expert opinion and examines the potentially risky behaviour of flouting the Data Centers Code of Conduct and we play the IT professionals favourite - Buzzworld Bingo.

Why EU Code is crucial

In November 2008 the European Union Joint Research Commission announced the launch of a new Code of Conduct for Data Centres. A European-wide voluntary initiative, the code promotes energy efficiency performance standards for data centres. Signatories are expected to implement the Code's best practice - for example, decommission old servers, reduce the amount of air-conditioning used, or maximise server usage by running multiple applications - and will be assessed on an annual report of energy consumption.

The Code was developed in collaboration with the industry, including players such as Microsoft, The Green Grid, Intel, BT, IBM, EMC, VMware, and many vendors and bodies which are actively involved either as participants, endorsers, or both. Reflecting this wide range of companies, the Code advises organisations on improving their underlying infrastructure through to software selection and energy management practices.

Eight months after the launch of the Code, it is surprising to see that so many organisations are still choosing not to apply it.

There has been criticism that the Code is weak because it is voluntary, and that it does not impose strict enough regulation on the industry. Some organisations would seemingly prefer to be burdened with resource-intensive regulation, which the European Union has thankfully avoided by adopting this self-governing approach - in the current economic climate, business performance needs to be the top priority. However, by ignoring the Code these organisations are potentially causing a risk to the long-standing autonomy of industry.

Let me explain why I think this is. It is important the industry understands the value the Code brings to the discussion of environmental good practice; it offers businesses a sensible, practical, and applicable set of measurements which will help minimise the environmental impact of their data centre operations and have a beneficial effect on the bottom line.

In addition, the EU Code of Conduct for Data Centres demonstrates the important role data centres have to play in the energy efficiency debate, the role the industry plays in the economy in general, and its central position within the 'digital economy'.

There is an increasing focus on energy efficiency in business as a whole, and by failing to apply the Code organisations risk being unable to demonstrate their environmental efficiency to customers who, in turn, are having to meet their own targets. By having an industry standard such as the Code to outline best practice, it allows organisations to help demonstrate where improvements are being made. What's more, emanating from the EU as it does the Code has pan-European reach built-in.

So there is every reason for organisations relevant to the Code to apply it, and their failure to do so has the potential to reverberate throughout the industry.

Rob Coupland, COO, TelecityGroup
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It's Buzzword Bingo 2.0

Buzzword bingo is where you prepare a list of industry buzzwords and tick them off as they crop-up during a speech, presentation, or public address. When all the words on your list have been used you're supposed to shout or whisper 'Bingo!' - whatever's more appropriate to the situation. A multi-streamed conference, with keynotes, plenary sessions and workshops, might provide sufficient buzzword utterance for four or five hands of Buzzword Bingo in a day.

The IT industry is very amenable to Buzzword Bingo, because its lingo is so rich in jargon and techno-babble. Favourites from the past are 'bleeding edge', 'competence', 'core', 'dynamic', 'killer application', 'leverage', 'mission-critical', 'paradigm shift', 'solution', 'synergy', and 'timeframe'.

Many of these have dropped out of PowerPoint parlance as the IT firmament has changed; but some hardy survivors - notably 'rocket science' (as in "server virtualisation is not rocket science") - still crop-up at conferences and seminars.

Over the last couple of years, however, I've noticed some new trends in buzzwording, and as we head toward the busiest time in the events calendar, I thought I'd share some of these with E&T readers so that you can stay ahead in your Buzzword Bingo heats - so eyes down for a full house.

First up is the propensity to 'butch-up' relatively work-a-day words, and press them into service as euphemistic expressions of coded intent. Common examples are 'robust', 'aggressive' (as in "This company will be adopting a robust/aggressive approach to taking this product to market"), 'challenge' (which has replaced the banished noun 'problem'), 'engage', ("we have determined new ways to engage with our customers"), 'opportunity' (a chance), 'outcomes' (results), 'confluence' ("our solution leverages a confluence of synergistic emerging technologies"), and those two dull worthies 'mitigation' (solve) and 'remediate' (fix).

A more common jargonistic wheeze is the appropriation into IT-speak of coinages from other spheres of human activity. A real banker at any IT conference these days is 'ecosystem': vendors don't have strategic partnerships with other vendors anymore, they have strategic partners who are "a good fit to our solutions ecosystem".

The big politics term 'roadmap', used to describe a vendor's approach-to-market plans, is another example. Variants of this include 'direction of travel', 'rules of the road', and 'delivery pyramid'.

'Bake-in to', as in "Open Source ethos is baked-in to our software strategy", and 'overlay', as in "distribution costs have been factored-in to our cost overlay", are newer additions to the buzzword canon.

Lastly, ardent Buzzword Bingo players should never underestimate overuse. Despite the fact that terms like 'going forward', 'best practice', 'fit for purpose', and that hardiest of clichés 'silos', are derided in the mainstream media, it would be an error to omit them from your list. And when it comes to totting up your final score - well, just do the math.

James Hayes, Editor, IT section
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