Ravi Ravishanker Talks IT and Sustainability

August 7, 2012

Wellesley’s chief information officer (CIO), Ravi Ravishanker, is leading his field in positioning technology divisions as drivers of sustainability for enterprises of all kinds.

Two recent articles in technology trade publications have focused on the CIO's role in sustainability, and have talked to Ravishanker about initiatives in his own division (Library and Technology Services, or LTS) and beyond at Wellesley. Personally, Ravishanker is “fiercely paperless,” as he told Tech Target in a story called Sustainable Practices from a Paperless and Politic CIO, and he has been for 10 years. He sets the model and encourages others to follow, without pushing uncomfortably hard, understanding that habitual ways change slowly, especially the habits of an institution.

Where he and other CIOs can drive change more directly is in enterprise technology approaches and choices, as Tech Target explains in Will Analytic Cloud Tools Make CIOs into Energy Efficiency Czars? Cloud computing allows for massive data crunching without adding to the server load, so it can make sophisticated calculations about complex scenarios such as energy use while using minimal energy in the process! Ravishanker, a member of the Mass Technology Leadership Council, earlier this summer co-presented a seminar about how cloud computing innovations are already enabling companies to understand trends and make better decisions, leading to improved energy and resource performance.

Wellesley is moving other services to the cloud as well, and is "virtualizing" many servers (a process that makes a single physical server appear as multiple servers running different software) so is already in the process of reducing its server and storage hardware and therefore total energy consumption. In addition, the servers and storage shown in the picture will be moved to an offsite co-location facility. "Since these specialized facilities are built with sustainability in mind," Ravishanker notes, "they are much more energy efficient than our data centers."

But the CIO role in sustainability is not limited to cloud tools and servers, Ravishanker told Tech Target: “It's incumbent on CIOs to champion and educate their companies about efficiency wherever and whenever possible…. There are other opportunities to be greener if you look for them—from going paperless to talking with facilities managers about re-purposing heat generated by the data center.”

(The articles linked here require free registration to be read in their entirety.)