Green IT: Newmarket IT takes a TechTurn

One firm injects a zero waste philosophy into the total asset management process with benefits that go beyond good corporate karma.
Jeff Zeigler, the founder and CEO of Austin, Texas-based TechTurn (formerly Newmarket IT and, finds himself at the helm for what is becoming an interesting time in his company's history.

In IT and beyond, the green movement is picking up steam. No longer is it considered smart for companies, from a public relations perspective, to choke landfills with obsolete equipment that can leach toxic chemicals into the ground and nearby waters, posing a hazard to local wildlife.

On the other side of the coin, data centers and offices with aging equipment face regulatory pressures to account for private data thanks to compliance guidelines such as HIPAA and Sarbanes Oxley. They are finding out that old systems piled in storerooms can expose them to legal and financial risk.

So TechTurn is putting out word that one way to avoid these pitfalls is to recycle old gear and make e-waste an integral factor in the total asset management process. And while responsible disposal may come with its karmic rewards, there are some welcome side benefits that are sure to please business managers.

Part of the allure among current customers of contracting with TechTurn is that the company will indemnify organizations when they put their old systems out to pasture. This means TechTurn will guarantee that old data is irretrievably wiped, undergoing a 3-pass, "complete data sanitization" as Zeigler describes.

In short, no more worries of customer data sprouting up on refurbished systems and hard drives. Or more to the point, companies are assured that their disposal techniques won't run afoul of compliance regulations.

And clients are getting the message says Zeigler, "they look to us to provide them services and protect their brand." Such was the case of one bank needing to safely clear out tens of thousands of workstations. He reports that the project, under an accounting deadline, was successfully completed in just over two weeks.

TechTurn began life in 1999 as "a traditional startup" that grew by servicing OEMs. Things took off to the point that they enjoy coast-to-coast reach and are processing "about a million assets a year," according to Zeigler.

Those assets run the gamut from flat panel monitors, printers and assorted peripherals to servers and workstations that range in age from Pentium III relics to months-old, modern day PCs. Workers have seen just about every type of datacenter-class system and storage array, including up-market EMC CLARiiONs.

After quality assurance testing at its Austin, Texas or Richmond, Virginia sites, roughly 80 percent of the systems and peripherals processed by TechTurn make their way back into the marketplace. The remainder is responsibly recycled by engaging parties that specialize in reclaiming raw materials in adherence to the firm's "no landfill" policy.

During the summer, the company plans to have two additional facilities up and running in Reno and Chicago.

TechTurn offers a range of services to help organizations harvesting licenses and square away service contract attached to retired systems. This alone can result in substantial savings for many businesses, says Zeigler. The firm also manages every aspect of the transaction from de-installation and logistics to final reports that detail the destruction of data along with assurances that all procedures were undertaken with the EPA's blessing.

Smart recycling is a two-way street

Since TechTurn also remarkets service parts, companies can get more mileage out of their not-quite-in-their-prime infrastructures. As Zeigler sees it, this is just another example of the company's eco-friendly approach, aiding "enterprises that need to keep their existing environments" and putting off expensive upgrades until it becomes necessary.

So settling on one identity for all of these services makes sense for the firm, especially as it reaches beyond its big-business client base and makes its presence felt abroad.

The change in name to TechTurn also marks the start of a new outsourcing service for integrators and VARs that allows them to offer services to entirely new market segments, particularly SMBs. The company is also placing an emphasis on e-commerce and engaging consumers directly, further easing the process of getting deals on gear for the green set and smaller enterprises with less-than-flush IT budgets.

All told, Jeff Zeigler believes that his company's latest moves are a win-win for both the environment and the tech industry. Noting the growing "buzz" in environmental issues and 37 states that are putting enviro-friendly laws on the books, he says, it's a great time to be green

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