The rise of cloud environments across industries coupled with the growth of the ICT industry has led to a significant influx in data carbon footprint. Everything we do online contributes to worldwide data growth and the reality is, constant networking and use of connected devices, the creation, housing and moving of enterprise data around the world is just as carbon-heavy as the data centres that store it.
When figures reveal the ICT industry outputs more carbon than the aviation industry since 2013, the impact of data generation on the environment is vast. While the incentive for action is clear, one of the key issues businesses face is the complexity of the sustainability transformation.
The creation, collection and use of data is amplified by ongoing tech advancements, from IoT to 5G to Artificial Intelligence to robotics. When data is being generated around the clock, businesses are tasked with effective management of data while ensuring the IT infrastructures can help accelerate sustainable development goals.
Why CIOs should include sustainability as part of their IT strategies?
It is no longer enough to take a reactive approach to climate threats and risks. There is now an expectation for businesses to do their part in setting targets and holding their key stakeholders and supply chains accountable for meeting sustainability goals.
Since the proliferation of the internet, data centres and the ICT industry have become significant consumers of energy and therefore global resources. When businesses are powered by the likes of big data, IoT, artificial intelligence, and more, businesses are faced with the dichotomy of how to continue using these technologies to maintain their competitive edge while simultaneously reducing their carbon data output.
Working toward a sustainable future, does not merely mean being more conscious of outputs – but also being smarter about the choice of technology and its impact on the environment. Sustainability initiatives won’t realise their full potential without the responsible use of cloud by businesses. The sustainability transformation calls for businesses running data centres to switch to more environmentally sustainable operations. Adopting new ways of operations, especially when it comes to the migration of sensitive data across new environments, can be daunting as changing operations often equates to business disruption.
As the driver of the machines behind the data carbon output of businesses, CIOs are well placed to make conscious decisions that are calculated and sustainable. IT is the factor that ties every division of a business together. The choices CIOs make from the data infrastructure to technology investments can influence practices that transcend the organisation and accelerate sustainability targets.
As the sustainable enterprise unfolds across every industry, CIOs should use the opportunity to ensure all of its core business operations are driven by responsible carbon management.
Cloud-first approach to reduce data-carbon footprint
Having an IT strategy led by sustainability goals is the first step to ensure business operations are both ethical and responsible. One way to reduce the carbon footprint created by data is to adopt a cloud-first approach and choose to work with a cloud provider that runs its operations via carbon-neutral means.
The migration of data and workloads to the cloud can help effectively move, manage and use data across scalable hybrid IT environments. At Commvault, cloud responsibly is key to the way we operate. Migrating data to the cloud can help IT operations become more sustainable than doing it all on-premise. Afterall, choosing a sustainable powered provider is not difficult when two of the big three data centres, Google and Microsoft, run solar and wind activities and AWS claim to use 100 per cent renewable energy.
Cloud VMs are greener. In fact, they can be between 3.75-6 times more efficient than most companies can run on-premises. Microsoft, for example, is working to make all its Azure Cloud data centers fuelled 100% by renewable energy by 2025.
Environmental initiatives for responsible consumption and production
If cloud isn’t feasible, businesses should reimagine their infrastructure to optimise efficiency in data centers and business computing ecosystems. This can include adopting data storage solutions to increase storage efficiencies, or eliminate redundant copies of data for backup, archive and replication.
While embedding sustainable solutions into business processes is vital, there are initiatives businesses can partake to broaden sustainability efforts. At Commvault, we joined forces with the Business Avengers Coalition that brings together 17 global companies last year to work toward the sustainable development goals by the United Nations. Dedicating projects and initiatives around sustainable development is a great way to drive positive change and awareness on how technologies can improve efficiencies in environmentally-conscious ways.
Tech companies small and large collectively have a responsibility to pull their weight to work toward lower energy consumption and reduce the carbon footprint created by their data.
We have been working to do our part to reduce our overall carbon footprint through responsible sourcing, use, reuse and recycling. While every little bit of this makes a difference, we recognize that our real impact is in helping thousands of customers globally manage their data more responsibly. As the sponsor of the Global Sustainability Goal 12: responsible consumption and production, we are proud to work with our customers and partners as we all strive to think differently about data.