Concerns about climate change have already affected data center strategies.
Over the last 18 months, industries have had to accelerate their digital transformation to remain competitive. From retail to healthcare and even financial services; no sector has escaped the reality that digitalization is a necessity for survival. Meanwhile, international calls for urgent action against climate change have made reducing carbon footprints an additional business imperative. As a result, managers are under enormous pressure to adapt and transform existing processes to boost customer engagement, employee productivity and business sustainability – while maximizing the sustainability of their IT.
Take Singapore as an example where concerns about climate change have already affected data center strategies. Experts estimate that data centers consume approximately 7% of the country’s total energy, prompting the government to put a “temporary pause” on new data centers in the country. 2021. It is estimated that data centers are likely to stop using 1% of the world’s energy 2021 to increase 15 times by 2030, equivalent to 8% of projected global demand, which makes sustainability an urgent business for organizations worldwide.
So how should organizations approach minimizing their carbon footprint from IT? The answer is to take a holistic view of the overall life cycle of the decisions that make up their digital transformation projects. This means superimposing a lens of sustainability on everything they do – from infrastructure, through monitoring and decommissioning.
Incomplete use of the goal
Insufficient use is not only a business problem, but also an environmental one. We know that for years, companies have built excess capacity into their data centers and cloud resources to ensure that capacity needs are met at all times. This leads to increased costs and unjustified energy consumption. While estimates of underutilization vary, according to Computer Economics, nearly 80% of production UNIX servers are used with less than 20% capacity, and more than 90% of Windows servers are used with less than 20% capacity, while uses 30% to 60% of their maximum power.
Thus, when choosing infrastructure providers – whether for local or public clouds – organizations need to choose a provider focused on reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions. In addition, the use of software-defined infrastructure (SDI) and virtualization techniques helps reduce the carbon footprint. SDI is emerging as an effective approach to addressing the extensive requirements for maximizing the potential for the value of infrastructure deployment. It is now being integrated into IT consumption models, providing on-demand capacity platforms.
Establishing processes for development and implementation
Businesses also need to research their processes to develop and implement software to profit from sustainability. Choosing the right framework and algorithm can reduce energy consumption. For example, tools such as the AWS Codeguru help profile applications and frameworks and provide automatic recommendations for potential improvements. These may include reducing CPU usage and application latency to reduce infrastructure costs and enable more energy efficient applications.
In terms of deployment, the use of micro-service frameworks can help to make full use of the infrastructure. Running server-free applications can also be highly energy efficient, as applications use the computing infrastructure only when running.
Another critical solution for organizations is the implementation framework. For artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) applications, the use of graphics processing units (GPUs) can help reduce the overall carbon footprint. Although the observed power for the GPU is high, applications finish faster, resulting in an overall power consumption significantly lower than the CPU versions. In addition, research shows that the GPU achieves a frame rate reduction ratio of 1.1-3.2 × compared to the others for simple kernelswhich makes it a more sustainable alternative.
Monitor and manage applications with AIOps
To avoid excessive energy consumption, the response to IT events must be immediate to counter the disaster. Traditional approaches to managing IT applications can be highly manual and lead to energy inefficiency. New techniques such as AIOps can improve the efficiency of IT operations management and reduce the carbon footprint of organizations. AIOps cuts through noise and identifies, eliminates and resolves common problems in application operations. It combines data from different sources and performs real-time analysis right at the source. In addition, it understands and analyzes historical and current data, linking anomalies and observed patterns to relevant events through machine learning. It also initiates appropriate automation-driven actions that can lead to continuous and energy-efficient IT operations.
Decommissioning of applications and infrastructure
Decommissioning applications is one of the most challenging exercises due to the data stored in the applications. Having the right backup strategy is crucial and will allow IT teams to simplify application decommissioning.
Another important aspect to consider is the decommissioning of the infrastructure. When looking for a technology partner, make sure the partner has decommissioning options as part of their own circular economy strategy. For example, the HPE Financial Services (HPEFS) asset recycling service helps customers maximize end-of-life assets. Organizations can transform their substitute systems into the aforementioned consumption model approach, which in turn achieves a two-to-one sustainability result. An example of this is the DAA, the global airport group that has become a service as a service using the HPE GreenLake platform, while reworking obsolete legacy assets. DAA takes advantage of the residual market value of old IT while reducing both e-waste and carbon emissions impacts.
As every industry is fueled by digital transformation strategies, business leaders and environmentalists are concerned about the negative impacts of growing energy consumption. As industries mobilize everywhere to embrace the digital economy, smart companies will take advantage of this moment as an opportunity to integrate sustainability into their digital transformation strategies – to alleviate both public and financial costs from uncontrolled energy needs.
About Vinod Bilani
Vinod Bilani leads AI and IoT practice for HPE. He has contributed to the design and implementation of smart city projects and has created smart public transport and traffic ecosystems in Singapore, India and the United States. He has over 22 years of experience in creating solutions and is a prominent inventor with 25 patents in AI and ML technologies.