Talk for Tertiary IT Managers conference: Beyond Virtualisation-

Posted on September 19, 2008


I gave a talk today at the 26th Annual Tertiary IT Managers conference.   “Beyond Virtualisation: what’s next for IT sustainability”.   I explored computing and sustainability imperative, particularly in the tertiary sector. We looked at what other disciplines are doing and explored what it might mean to be a sustainable practitioner in computing.  We looked at our own footprint, and what we could be doing that is “good, not just less bad. Finally we looked at areas where IT management could benefit in other ways from learnings in sustainability.

While the turnout wasn’t great (last session after lunch on the last day), the presentation went well and the questions showed that I managed to make some connections.

The first question was about example of refusing packaging.  I relayed Peter Noble’s experience at the IRD.A Another asked if this was really going to have an impact – isn’t the supplier just going to throw it away?  Maybe, but it gives them the incentive to reduce the amount of packaging, or to make it entirely reusable.  After all, we don’t actually want to buy packing, we just want a equipment in good condition.  

A question about disposal of old computers led to a discussion about whether we could demand “take back ever ever, from whom ever”.   A participant talked about how they found homes for old computers, but recognised that eventually they would have to be disposed of.

Someone asked  for more of Lazoska’s predictions. 

Blevi’s ipod quote impressed someone and said it was a basic problem, people assume that computing has to be new.

I was asked about the sustainability of open source.   My answer, as always, is that I don’t see anything particularly sustaining about the approach (any more than other approaches),  not denying sustainable uses of FOSS, and the organic-like nature of FOSS.   Most work on “sustainability” of FOSS is actually about the viability of FOSS as a business model – I pointed to Yochai  Benkler.