Sustainability is more than just a high-minded buzzword. As debates over energy consumption become more intense, companies can no longer afford to ignore where their power is coming from when it comes to setting up their IT systems. For many companies, IT sustainability is a major priority that goes hand-in-hand with their broader data center strategy.
Why More Enterprises are Focusing on IT Sustainability
While organizations routinely face regulatory pressures to adopt more sustainable technology solutions, an equally powerful push for greener business practices overall is coming from today’s highly-informed consumers. Increasingly, customers are demanding greater transparency about how companies produce products and services. Many of them are even willing to pay more for products that are created with more sustainable practices and believe that a commitment to sustainability is essential to helping a company build brand trust.
Although consumers view their own decisions and behavior as important in the collective effort to improve sustainability, a recent study found that 72 percent of them believe businesses are among the most responsible entities for improving global sustainability outcomes. That means that whether a company is truly dedicated to renewable energy and reducing its carbon footprint, it would be well advised to behave as if its customers are.
According to a 2019 research report by Swedish KTH (Royal Institute of Technology), internet services make up about ten percent of the world’s total electricity consumption. Organizations that depend upon their online networks to deliver services and connect with customers need to think about how their IT infrastructure is impacting overall energy usage. In order to become more sustainable, they must endeavor to make their systems as efficient as possible and find ways to do more with less.
How to Enhance IT Sustainability With Modern Hybrid Cloud Frameworks
Overcoming the carbon footprint of modern IT infrastructure is a significant challenge for any organization. Part of the problem is due to the resources required to manufacture the technology itself. Consider, for example, the UN estimate that 81 percent of the energy expended over the lifetime of a computer is expended during the production process (the same study found that even an average computer and monitor takes 530 pounds of fossil fuels, 48 pounds of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture).
Given those substantial sunk costs, then, it’s even more important for organizations to find ways to deploy that hardware in the most efficient ways possible. Many companies have already taken a positive first step by migrating their technology stack out of wasteful, outdated data centers and into state-of-the-art colocation facilities that make much more efficient use of power and cooling resources. This new generation of data centers was largely responsible for the low year over year growth in total data center power usage in the 2010s.
With organizations now turning to hybrid cloud deployments to expand their IT capabilities, they have a new opportunity to promote sustainability by relocating energy-intensive processing functions in public cloud infrastructure that relies more heavily upon renewable power sources. Part of the challenge with promoting sustainable energy is determining where, exactly, the energy is coming from. A company may optimize its infrastructure to be incredibly energy efficient, but it could still be leaving a sizable carbon footprint if it’s drawing from a local power grid that uses dirty fossil fuels (like a coal plant, of which there are about 300 still operating in the US).
One of the best ways to avoid this problem is to use their colocated hardware for low-energy storage while relocating more energy-intensive processing workloads to public cloud environments. That’s because the hyperscale data centers that house the world’s largest cloud services are among the most energy-efficient facilities in the world. Hybrid cloud deployments afford companies a great deal of flexibility when it comes to workload placement, allowing them to leverage the most efficient resources while minimizing their consumption of “dirty” energy sources.
Choose a Data Center Partner Who Shares Your Core Values!
Selecting the right data center partner is equally important when it comes to promoting sustainability. If the facility has a high power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating (anything higher than the 2019 global average of 1.67), then it probably isn’t doing everything it could to optimize power consumption. These facilities are typically using outdated cooling infrastructure or don’t have the sophisticated environmental monitoring systems in place to manage conditions on the data floor effectively. Even simple measures like installing automatic lights or climate controls can do a great deal to reduce overall power consumption. A data center that isn’t making this bare minimum commitment likely isn’t taking the more difficult steps to promote efficiency.
Similarly, a facility that doesn’t offer the hybrid connectivity necessary to interface with the leading public cloud platforms is putting its customers in a position where they’ll have to rely on legacy systems and cope with the effects of server sprawl, both of which cause IT systems to use far more power than their workloads would otherwise require. Newer equipment tends to be manufactured with much higher energy efficiency standards, so walking into a data center that makes extensive use of older equipment is another red flag for companies looking for a true sustainability partner.
Discover Hybrid Sustainability with vXchnge
vXchnge data centers are designed from the ground up for reliability and energy efficiency. We use Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) to ensure that we’re supporting green power even in markets where it isn’t readily available. With the insite intelligent monitoring platform, you can monitor every aspect of your deployment’s energy usage to maximize efficiency. And thanks to our cloud interconnections, you can easily connect your network to leading cloud providers and process your workloads in the most energy-efficient environment possible. To learn more about how you can embrace sustainability with vXchnge, talk to one of our colocation experts today.