Nobody would deny that storage is growing in ways that are difficult for most people to understand. Back in 1981, the IBM personal computer came out with a 10-megabyte hard disk that was enormous for the time. Today, it is common for a PC to have four gigabytes of read-only memory (RAM) - in other words, 400 times as much. It was only a short time ago that people learned what gigabyte means. Now we are throwing terabytes around and petabytes are not that unusual. But the world has been shaken by concerns that we are doing dreadful things to the planet and green is the colour of choice for much of what we do today, including information technology. Stanley Zaffos, an analyst at Gartner, believes some technologies used in modern storage will help to lower power consumption and - almost by default - create a greener environment in the data centre. 'Some of these [new technologies] also have the added benefit of lowering power consumption and decreasing facility needs, which enables storage vendors to categorise them as 'green' in their marketing materials. However, even if these technologies have no 'green' components, users should still deploy them because they can shrink back-end disk configurations, lower storage acquisition costs, improve staff productivity and reduce the frequency of disk repairs or delay system upgrades,' he said. Nelson Lam Ka-Keung, product director for the technology solutions group at Hewlett-Packard Hong Kong, said a number of factors were at work. 'As companies try to create a more efficient environment with limited budgets and staff, they are leveraging storage technologies to play a bigger part in transforming the data centre,' he said. 'Technologies such as storage virtualisation will play a bigger part in transforming the data centre, as it improves the utilisation and retrieval of mission-critical data, consolidates hardware systems and creates an infrastructure that is easier to manage. 'Nascent innovations, such as solid state disks, improve reliability of disk arrays to improve performance while also reducing power consumption to create a more energy-efficient storage environment.' Maren Leizaola is chief executive officer of HEX Hardware Exchange, a company that sells second-hand computer equipment. He believes the key to being 'green' requires the rare skill of thoroughly understanding the architecture and the tricks of capacity planning. 'It is also is necessary to be able to figure out what the customer actually needs. While new storage hardware should give a better gigabyte/watt ratio, a company is often buying totally overspecified hardware because that is all the vendor will supply. So the customer ends up burning electricity, air-conditioning power and other resources - and it will take 10 years to fill up the disk space they bought,' he said. According to Gartner analyst Jimmie Chang, the mainland is not throwing a lot of effort at 'green' storage, but that does not mean it cannot be nudged in the right direction. 'Recent changes in government policies and technical innovations have occurred that we believe will help 'green' storage to gain more attention. Vendors need to be aware that organisations in China are more interested in saving costs than in saving the environment,' he said. Those who want to persuade mainlanders to think 'green' would do well to look at cost savings. Most mainland companies, according to Mr Chang, think that going 'green' is expensive. Obviously, if newer storage solutions consume less power, they should become 'greener'. These issues may not be foremost in the minds of many executives, no matter where they are from, but cost savings are a language everyone understands.