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How organisations can reduce IT’s environmental impact
Tue, 17th Oct 2023

MSPs have a unique vantage point to guide businesses to a more sustainable IT through three transformative avenues: cloud migration, IoT-based monitoring, and hardware-as-a-service solutions.

That's according to Beate Flamm, Senior Vice President of Sustainable Change at ALSO Cloud, who says the migration to cloud computing stands as a compelling case for reducing environmental impact. 

“A study by Microsoft found that its Azure cloud is 93 percent more energy-efficient and 98 percent more carbon-efficient than an on-premise data centre," says Flamm.

"This demonstrates the energy savings potential of cloud-based IT operations. Cloud providers use virtualisation and resource pooling to consolidate computing resources efficiently. This approach minimises the number of servers needed and reduces hardware-related energy consumption. It also allows for better utilisation of resources, reducing waste."

Cloud services enable organisations to scale their IT resources up or down based on demand. This dynamic scaling prevents the over-provisioning of hardware, ensuring that resources are used optimally. 

Flamm adds, "SMEs don't need to run an on-premise server for their computing, storage, or application provisioning: a public cloud performs this function at scale much more efficiently than multiple small servers."

What is more, cloud-based infrastructure is instrumental in facilitating remote work, which can lead to reduced commuting and office energy consumption. This is especially relevant in today’s world, where remote work is increasingly common.

However, it's imperative to acknowledge the growing environmental impact of cloud services.

“While the cloud can help us in reducing emissions, we must still be mindful of how much power every Google search or automated data analysis session uses up," says Flamm.

IoT-driven measurement and monitoring systems are instrumental in quantifying and managing environmental performance. 

“IoT-connected sensors for measuring temperature, emissions, and air quality, along with monitoring energy and water consumption, are key components," Flamm says.

"These sensors provide real-time data that empowers organisations to pinpoint inefficiencies and reduce their carbon footprint."

ESG legislation emphasises measuring and reporting progress in minimising environmental impact across all facets of a business. 

“An organisation's environmental impact is not solely about its energy consumption and emissions," says Flamm. 

"Measurement is everything. IoT monitoring systems play a pivotal role in this measurement, providing the data needed for setting and achieving sustainability goals."

The adoption of hardware-as-a-service models can yield substantial sustainability benefits. 

“Shifting to a 'hardware-as-a-service' approach significantly reduces an organisation's environmental footprint," says Flamm.

"By extending the lifespan of devices and promoting refurbishment and recycling, DaaS contributes to sustainability. For instance, a report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) highlights that recycling one million laptops can save energy equivalent to electricity usage of over 3,600 homes in a year."

Although sustainability and Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) factors may not yet be primary considerations for SMEs, Flamm anticipates a shifting landscape. 

“The fact that more and more affordable energy-efficient products and solutions arrive on the market will support this transition.” 

This change is driven by both legislative efforts and the availability of eco-friendly solutions.

 Flamm emphasises that sustainable IT practices can be accessible and cost-effective. 

“A company might feel that sustainable IT is too costly and complex for them to deal with,” she acknowledges. “But it can be as straightforward as using energy from renewable sources to power its servers and making sure to recycle old equipment properly.”

Additionally, she addresses data management practices, stating, “Storing old and non-essential data indirectly contributes to carbon emissions. We all hang on to emails and documents from years ago, knowing full well that 90 percent of all data become redundant three months after they were created.” Her advice underscores the environmental significance of data management."

The opportunity for Value-Added Resellers (VARs) and MSPs to contribute to sustainability and enhance customer relationships is substantial. By aiding SMEs in making the most of the cloud-based as-a-service-offers available, MSPs can not only add value to their customers’ endeavours but also bolster their own ESG credentials.