Last week, Greenpeace launched a campaign urging the three big cloud computing companies – Amazon, Apple and Microsoft – to make their clouds more environmentally friendly.
Of course, any effort to do so is very worthwhile.
But, for some, the campaign may imply that IT is a bad guy when it comes to environmental impact, which I don’t think is the case.
In fact, IT is helping businesses to reduce their carbon footprint in a number of ways. And happily, the same solutions often help to reduce costs.
From a green perspective, one of the most powerful technologies going around in virtualisation (running multiple virtual servers on one physical machine).
Virtualisation specialists VMware say that every server virtualised will save 7000kWh of electricity annually, as well as four tons of CO2.
That’s the equivalent of taking 1.5 cars off the road.
In a typical server room, VMware argue that virtualisation will reduce energy costs by 80% – a significant saving in anyone’s book.
In short, if your business isn’t already using it, introducing virtualisation should be a business and an environmental priority.
Virtualisation is also an important technology for the cloud, which by nature is far more efficient than traditional computing.
How so exactly?
First because the cloud consolidates computing hardware into a more concentrated infrastructure – something that will always translate into better power efficiency.
Second because the data centres in which this consolidation occurs themselves become a big target for energy efficiency measures. In the data centre, even small gains in efficiency are magnified, and providers are constantly looking for ways to cut their footprints and costs.
Better communications technology means fewer business trips, and in a country as wide as Australia, that eliminates a lot of air travel and a lot of carbon.
These days, however, carbon savings aren’t only restricted to aircraft emissions. At Brennan IT, we’re seeing more businesses deploy video solutions to employees’ homes – helping to take more cars off the road by reducing commuting while keeping people more productive.
Making environmental savings in your business
With the carbon tax set to begin in July, businesses will be looking to lessen their environmental impact and IT can help.
Here are some steps to consider:
1. Conduct an audit
Before businesses can tackle their carbon footprint, it’s important to know how and where carbon emissions are being generated.
A business-wide audit will reveal where savings can be made most effectively. It’s also worth conducting an IT-related audit to find the biggest energy-consuming devices within your infrastructure.
2. Develop a strategy
Once you understand the nature of your carbon emissions, create a plan for reducing them.
Newer and more efficient equipment, as well as more efficient processes, are possible solutions.
As for technologies capable of delivering immediate benefits, the virtualisation, cloud and video conferencing solutions discussed are each good places to start.
When it comes to running a greener business, it’s important to see technology as a solution.
That’s especially the case when it comes to the cloud – one of the biggest benefits of which is that it’s a low-cost and energy-efficient means of delivering computing power.
Dave Stevens is MD, Brennan IT.
(This blog post was first published on the SmartCompany website on April 26 2012)