Chief information officers need to wake up to the issues of spiralling energy consumption and environmental legislation, and develop "greener" approaches to IT, according to Gartner.
The industry analyst highlighted two factors of particular visibility to policy makers: the direct issue of electronic waste; and the potential impact on global warming caused by the electricity that computers consume.
"IT's age of innocence is nearing an end," said Steve Prentice, distinguished analyst and chief of research at Gartner.
"Technology's clean and friendly 'weightless economy' image is being challenged by its growing environmental footprint.
"While a growing number of regulations are already increasing the end-of-life costs for IT equipment, IT also has to face mounting concerns over spiralling electrical power consumption."
The analyst firm noted that the growth of power-hungry data centres, coupled with the rising cost of electricity, is focusing attention on energy, providing businesses with a double incentive to cut carbon emissions.
Rakesh Kumar, research vice president at Gartner, said that during the past 12 months, there has been a significant increase in the deployment of high-density servers which is leading to major problems in power and cooling for data centres.
"The power needed for a rack of high-density server blades can be between 10 and 15 times higher than the power needed for a traditional server environment. Most legacy data centres built 15 to 20 years ago cannot meet this demand," he said.
"At the same time, a similar amount of additional power will be needed to remove the huge quantity of heat generated by these new machines.
"If the machines are not cooled sufficiently, they will shut down with potentially damaging consequences for business service levels and IT governance. "
Kumar warned that overspending on power can have a considerable impact on the IT department's ability to grow and meet business needs in the future.
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