07 September 2010

Making a Small World Smaller

Attended a seminar/event today, Making a Small World Smaller: A mixed bag as usual. Some good ideas, some less spectacular ones, but it generally had a good feel.

An interesting tidbit came out from one of the speakers (to me anyway): Melbourne is apparently the first city in the world to make use of Wiki technology to make city planning a collaborative experience with the public.

They put the actual city plan on the internet in a Wiki and allowed, for a limited time, any member of the public to edit and change the city plan document.

The great success is that instead of getting a lot of profanity and rubbish, they actually got ideas, changes and edits for services, infrastructure and processes that even their highly paid consultants didn't even come near to thinking about, realized was a problem, or proposed better ways of doing things.


06 September 2010

Greening Offices

As we move into a new awareness of resource scarcity, businesses are finally realizing that greener practices go hand in hand with productive and cost efficiencies.

I came across a program called CitySwitch, run by the Australian government that attempts to bring big office tenants under wing and the results seem impressive.

What I did notice, however, consistently across a lot of this greening is that our computer systems are frequently overlooked.

How about considering thin client technologies as a replacement for traditional desktops where specialized software is not required? We consistently see energy saving bulbs, green architecture, behavioral programs, and so on, but hundreds, upon thousands of power hungry PCs are still the de-facto arrangement in offices. Odd to me considering the problems associated with them and the applicability of newer approaches and technologies and the advent of the Cloud.

The 80-90% use case of word-processing, spreadsheets, email and group-ware are far more efficiently deployed centrally.

The keys here are:

- Thin client hardware, far smaller manufacturing, energy and emissions footprint.

- System consolidation, simpler management and scaling of infrastructure.

- While data centers are huge resource users, they are also far more easily optimized than lots of individual desktops or user-endpoints, e.g. converting a data center from AC to DC based already cuts waste without even having to reconfigure any software.

- Cloud-themed approaches to this are also more and more available eliminating a lot of the capital costs related to systems deployment.