Enterprises organizations today spend a great deal of time investing in ways to lower their carbon footprint, but green IT is one area that is often missing.
Now, you might be thinking, green IT? It’s all online; isn’t it already environmentally sustainable?”
Unfortunately, your IT department is anything but green as-is.
What is green IT?
So, what does green IT entail, exactly? Like most departments within an organization, there are places IT can cut back on its greenhouse gas emissions to make a huge, positive impact on the environment.
IT’s carbon footprint problem
Global computing is estimated to be responsible for between 2.1% and 3.9% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a 2021 article by United Press International, Inc. Those percentages may not seem like a lot by themselves, but when you put them beside the 2% of greenhouse gas emissions that the entire aviation industry is responsible for, the reality of the situation begins to look more serious.
How does the IT industry have such a substantial carbon footprint? Clearly the manufacturing of computing hardware technologies drives a large portion, but IT operations impact more greenhouse gases than you may realize:
- Electricity used by your equipment
- Electricity used to cool the equipment
- Building floor space for equipment
- Transportation of the equipment
- Employee travel/transport for maintenance
Why you should care
Having a green IT department is beneficial in a few big ways:
- Environmentally: The obvious benefit is the positive impact “going green” has on the environment. By lowering your IT department’s greenhouse gas emissions, you’re actively contributing to putting a stop to global warming. For more information on the science behind greenhouse gas’ impact on our planet, read NASA’s short explanation here.
- Business: Believe it or not, going green is actually great for your enterprise’s profit margins.
- Cost Savings: One of the major benefits to eliminating some of that hardware you’re currently using to drive IT operations is that you’ll no longer have to pay as much just to be in business (e.g. you’ll reduce CAPEX, have a lower electric bill and you’ll spend less on maintenance/employee travel to provide said maintenance)
- Loyal Customers: According to a Forbes article, “more than 80% of people respect companies and brands that adopt eco-friendly practices.” That respect leads to business. Forbes points out that many consumers would like to make more green purchases, but don’t have the means to do it as much as they would like to. If you can make that process easy for your clients by establishing green IT, it will increase their loyalty and could inspire potential clients to pick you over your competitors.
Ways to overcome green IT roadblocks
Looking at the list of IT operations that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, you’ve probably realized that the main roadblock to green IT is the equipment involved.
There are a few steps you can take to help reduce your carbon footprint to achieve green IT.
Use data deduplication
With the exponential growth of data, IT organizations are using far more of their limited budgets on data storage, so they are faced with spending more money or reducing the data they protect. Data deduplication can eliminate up to 95% of your backup data, depending on the data type and frequency of backups.
What is data deduplication? Data deduplication is the process of identifying and eliminating blocks of duplicated data, such as in a backup data set. In short, it eliminates redundancy in data, which lessens the amount of data you need to store and the costs associated with storage.
Performing data deduplication on your backups and archives will significantly reduce the amount of data you store, and in turn, reduce the amount of storage hardware used in the data center and in the cloud. This is a fantastic way to lower the global carbon footprint as fewer devices will need to be manufactured, stored, transported, managed and supported.
Additionally, data deduplication allows you to use less electricity for power and cooling and use less building floor space for equipment. According to Datamation, data deduplication extends “the life of hard drives by reducing the number of required read/write processes.” So, even if you choose to stick with physical hard drive equipment, you’ll spend less money purchasing, maintaining and replacing the equipment, which will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions that would have been used to make new equipment and transport it. The result: green IT.
Use cloud storage for backup, disaster recovery and long-term data retention
This approach has already been adopted by most IT organizations to reduce costs, capital expenses and IT administration. Using cloud object storage like Azure Blob and AWS S3 can help lower your carbon footprint. With cloud storage, you can add and remove storage as needed, which makes it a far more flexible solution. You also eliminate the typical storage hardware refresh cycle to help lower your costs.
According to Statista, “Close to 50 percent of all corporate data is stored in the cloud… These services enable users and enterprises to store data in third-party data centers which can then be accessed without the need for additional on-site storage.” And the number of companies, large and small, that are relying on the cloud for data storage will only continue to grow. “Around 81 percent of businesses will have been using cloud applications at some point in the future,” reports ICTSD, “There were 93% of organizations using cloud strategies that incorporate multi-cloud elements in 2020, while 83% used hybrid clouds.” ICTSD also points out that cloud storage is a safe space for data, as files stored on cloud servers can be encrypted, making the data difficult for hackers to access. Plus, using a source-side data deduplication solution as part of your backup, disaster recovery and data retention strategies can be a great green IT advantage and help reduce the amount of cloud storage required by up to 95%.
Use a software-defined secondary storage solution offering remote monitoring and maintenance
Instead of purchasing more hardware, in the form of a purpose-built-backup-appliance (PBBA) or deduplication appliance, you should consider moving to a software-defined secondary storage solution. Not only do you eliminate all the associated hardware-based carbon challenges mentioned above, you will also eliminate the need to refresh that hardware every three to five years. A comprehensive software-defined storage management solution delivers powerful data deduplication, replication and cloud tiering capabilities, to complement whatever backup software you already use. By using a solution that offers remote management/maintenance capabilities, you’re negating the need for employee travel to the datacenter, which will greatly reduce the greenhouse gases emitted during the travel process.
So, isn’t it time your organization thought more about green IT? Quest QoreStor can help you lower your impact on the environment while significantly reducing storage requirements and costs in both the data center and in the cloud.