Corporate security and the climate crisis

How to adapt security and risk management policies - including IT security - to deal with climate change.

But the other six are also of great significance, as Phelps explains:

  • Regulatory Risk: Expect regulation for the emissions of products that you make (I.e. car emissions) and/or for the manufacturing process that you use to create products.
  • Supply Chain Risk: "All companies will need to evaluate the vulnerability of their suppliers to potential regulation, the cost of suppliers complying with regulations, the geographical distribution of supplier network, etc.
  • Product and Technology Risk: Some companies will do better than others in coping in a carbon-restrained world. Those who create new climate friendly products or services will benefit.
  • Litigation Risk: Companies that generate significant carbon emissions will likely face litigation over time (like tobacco, asbestos, etc.). Swiss Re notes that there may well be personal liability for directors and officers.
  • Financial Risk: Citibank, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, three of the nation's largest investment banks, have developed new environmental standards to help lenders evaluate risks associated with investments in coal-fired power plants.
  • Reputational Risk: Companies that fail to seize the opportunity to demonstrate "good citizens" of the planet to key stakeholders respond will face the court of public opinion, i.e., consumer and investor backlash.

Kicking the Door Open

Another person of vision and depth of experience I brainstormed with was Steven Sams, Vice President of Global Site and Facilities Services for IBM Global Technology Services division. Sams is one of the drivers of IBM's transformation from Big Blue to Big Green.

The story IBM has to tell is compelling and offers great promise for its clients and partners. For example, IBM itself consolidated 3,900 servers into 33 System z mainframes, migrated servers delivering largest savings first, eliminated assets with lowest utilization first, aggregated customer work portfolio to leverage strong customer buy-in, focused on freeing up raised floor space, and provisioned new applications to the mainframe. As a result, IBM reduced annual energy usage by 80 percent and total floor space by 85 percent.

Working with one of its clients, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center (UPMC), IBM helped UPMC maximize service level and mitigate costs by saving $30-40M over three years with Wintel, UNIX and storage virtualization, reducing from forty storage databases to two centralized SAN arrays, and consolidating one thousand physical servers to three hundred IBM servers (multiple platforms) and supporting increased business growth. In China, an $180 million reduction in annual operating expenses from consolidating thirty-eight to two data centers and improving business resilience. In Germany, a US$7.2M in annual operational savings by consolidating four centers into one 3,800 square foot data center.

To meet with Sams, I journeyed to an IBM research center in upstate New York. The building designed by legendary architect I.M. Pei is organized around glass and metal pyramids, similar to those Pei designed for the Musée du Louvre in Paris. The specter of these pyramids added a dimension of timelessness to our three hour discussion on the how and why of going green. After all, IBM was one of the companies that was there at the dawn of the IT revolution, it is understandable that it is also one of the companies that is present here at the dawn of the green revolution.

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