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The Elephant in the room

Article Type:          Published: 02-2010         Views: 1231   



What has been the elephant in the room for the IT industry? Answer: The Cloud. But now that is all about to change..

Everyone's been talking about Cloud, but not everyone has been convinced by it. What's the cost, what are the implications, what's the hitch? Those were the reactions that understandably were emanating from many quarters. To date, there have been many more questions than answers.

Well now, with IBM announcing its $362m cloud computing centre as its greenest ever, 'the cloud' is not simply a concept lurking on the horizon; it has become a sustainable reality that business can no longer afford to ignore.

"Offices will no longer be cluttered with computer equipment," says Phil Worms of iomart. "A company's data will be hosted out there in the ether, a living breathing being, whirring away in space."

Cloud, he argues, opens up a whole new world of communication where the ethos of a company is as important as its product. "Where and how a company secures its data is as important as what that data is. Clients will not just be focused on what you can do for their data, but how you do it. Are you on board with the message of sustainability and green data?"

In this new world, corporations will consider the storage of their data as part of their green agenda and their CSR requirements, and will expect to see evidence that others also embrace those values in the way they operate themselves.

With this in mind, when Easyspace, the domain name and web hosting arm of iomart Group plc, was looking for a way to promote its latest campaign, it had its social responsibility front of mind. Back in November, Green IT reported on how Easyspace had launched its 'Domain name for a Domain' campaign to raise money to help save the Asian elephant by donating cash from every domain name sale to the 'Elephant Family' charity. The campaign was launched under the watchful eye of ??Sir Roger??, the Asian elephant, which is one of "ture & Sport Glasgow??s most popular exhibits at the Kelvington Art Gallery and Museum. This spring, the Elephant Family charity is holding the first Elephant Parade in London, where 200 fibreglass elephants will be displayed in prominent public spaces, to highlight the plight of the animal.

"ather than seeing this as a pure brand awareness exercise, we decided to use the parade, which is billed as the capital's biggest outdoor art fair, as a chance to engage with the future generation," says Worms. "So, instead of choosing one of the many famous artists or designers involved in the project, Easyspace has engaged the services of the students at one of Scotland's leading further education colleges, Glasgow Metropolitan College, to bring the project to fruition."

Errol Vanderhorst, managing director of Easyspace, takes up the story: "Communication and engagement are at the heart of what we're doing with the Elephant Parade campaign. This project is giving the students of Glasgow Met College a taste of what working in the real world is like, working to a project brief and delivering to tight deadlines, and highlighting to us how our business needs to look outside of itself to support important issues." The first year design and arts students at Glasgow Met were given the briefest of briefs to work with an elephant design that combined the themes of technology and communication with the notion of an endangered species. Thirty-seven students produced model elephants with stunning designs and, after consideration by a panel of judges from Easyspace and the Elephant Family charity, Ewelina Kawarska's design, 'Cosmos', was chosen.

The 27-year-old, who came to Scotland from Poland four years ago, is in the first year of an NQ Interior Design course at the college. She explains her winning design as a planetary representation of the brief: "I wanted to illustrate both the global nature of communication, which is the core ethos of Easyspace, and to emphasise the scale of the elephant's plight."

George McNeillie, head of design crafts at the college, describes the project as a fantastic opportunity for its students. "They are working to a real brief, from a real client, in real time. They'll learn important lessons about working in a commercial environment, while at the same time interpreting a client's vision on an important environmental issue. It's a great way for them to find out what life will be like when they step foot out of the confines of the college and into the wider world of work."

The college will use the project to involve different departments to realise Ewelina's design, including model makers and photographers. The students will be encouraged to use 21st century communication, such as tweeting and blogging, to spread news of what they are doing. A Facebook page has already been set up. It can be accessed by typing in: 'Domain of the Easyspace Elephant'.

Meanwhile, Easyspace is working with the Elephant Parade organisers to arrange a suitable London location to display their elephant. It is hoped it will be sited in a City of London location, either St Paul's or Bank, where it will be seen by hundreds of thousands of office workers and tourists daily.

So what will the people who walk past the Easyspace elephant think when they look at it? How will they interpret Kawarska's design? Whatever they take away with them, the hope is that they will have been challenged and made to think.

Many of the elephant designs, which can be viewed at, are based on traditional Indian art, reflecting the spiritual side of the Asian subcontinent and the beauty of the elephant. The Easyspace Elephant is different, representing the vastness of the world we live in, and the opportunity that modern technology now gives us, both to communicate and to consider the impact that our actions are having on the planet on which we live.

As IBM has shown, corporate no longer means monolithic, uncaring, remote. It can also mean engaged, concerned and sustainable.

"The Cloud, the cosmos, we are all intertwined," Phil Worms concludes. "The mouse might have once scared the Asian elephant - today, it's helping to save it."

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