IBM's top hardware executive, William Zeitler, will deliver a keynote speech at a large utility industry conference to make the case for bridging the worlds of IT and electricity.
Zeitler, senior vice president of IBM's Systems and Technology Group, will speak at the Edison Electric Institute's annual meeting in Toronto on Monday, where he is expected to announce that New York utility Consolidation Edison intends to participate in a data center energy efficiency incentive program with IBM.
"We want to challenge the (electricity) industry to stop thinking about lighting and motors--the traditional stuff--and look at IT as a big user of electricity," said Steve Cole, program manager for energy efficiency at IBM.
It is estimated that data centers alone consume about 2 percent of the world's electricity. And the rate of energy usage--and spending--is going up steadily.
With the rising cost of electricity and growing environmental awareness, IBM and other IT vendors have invested in more energy-efficient computing gear.
There are several technologies, such as virtualization and techniques for lowering energy usage. Yet, for the most part, energy remains outside the purview of IT managers.
A recent IBM customer survey found that only 26 percent of IT managers had responsibility for energy usage; most don't even see the bill.
IBM is seeking to co-market with utilities to promote energy efficiency, Cole said. While IBM deals with IT professions, utilities have customer relationships with the facilities managers at companies that deal with energy procurement and management.
Con Edison will make customers aware of an energy efficiency program that IBM offers in which companies that lower their energy consumption can sell "energy efficiency certificates."
Cole said measuring efficiency will become easier once a standard EnergyStar rating for servers and storage is completed.