September 14, 2022 By Adam Jollans 3 min read

Where to start with sustainability initiatives, and how an open hybrid cloud can help.

Sustainability has become a business imperative. 86% of companies now have a sustainability strategy, and 73% of surveyed executives have set a net-zero carbon emissions goal. Enterprise leaders like you may feel pressure from the boardroom or clients to make sustainability a top goal.

Yet the core challenge of sustainability remains: How do you reduce your carbon footprint while remaining innovative and cost-effective? This paradox may explain why, while four out of five CEOs expect sustainability investments to improve business results in the next five years, only 23% of these CEOs say they are implementing sustainability strategies across their organization.

One common approach to this challenge is green computing, defined by the IBM Institute for Business Value as “environmentally sustainable computing.” Good green computing practices almost always overlap with good business practices. A hybrid cloud approach can enable green computing by facilitating data-center efficiency, increased visibility and greater integration.

What’s your IT carbon footprint?

The first step to computing more responsibly is understanding how and where your IT operations use energy. Here are the four major sources of emissions in IT operations:

  1. Data centers: Globally, data centers consume 200 to 250 terawatt-hours of electricity — around 1% of all global demand.
  2. Big data analytics: Increased demand for data has created increased demand for servers and, therefore, for electricity.
  3. Security: Adding security features to software can increase its energy needs.
  4. Internet usage: Since 2010, the number of internet users worldwide has doubled, and global internet traffic has expanded 15-fold.

Understanding your current output from these sources will help you see where you stand — and how you can optimize to get greener IT.

Green computing saves green

What do the above carbon emitters have in common? They cost money as well as energy. In fact, the two are virtually interchangeable in the modern data center; generally, the more energy your IT operations consumes, the more money you spend. Conversely, the more you can reduce this energy usage, the more money you’ll save. Green computing is as much about doing well as it is about doing good.

Reducing your footprint with hybrid cloud strategies

Here’s where sustainability imperatives meet business objectives. The strategies used in your organization’s journey to hybrid cloud often dovetail with sustainability goals. Let’s examine three in more detail.

Data-center efficiency

The journey to hybrid cloud is about finding the right blend of on-prem, public cloud, private cloud and edge computing infrastructure to address your varied, complex needs. You can also reduce the carbon footprint of your traditional IT infrastructure by better utilizing resources and consolidating workloads.

For example, virtualization, containerization and hardware acceleration of energy-intensive algorithms like cryptography and artificial intelligence can help reduce the carbon footprint in your data center.

And migrating from traditional x86 architecture to server platforms like IBM LinuxONE can potentially reduce energy consumption by 75%, reduce space by 50% and reduce carbon emissions by over 850 metric tons annually, compared to similar industry standard servers.

To that end, Thomas Taroni, CTO of Phoenix Systems, selected the IBM LinuxONE platform to help meet his company’s security and resiliency mandates. By migrating from x86 to LinuxONE, he also cut his data center floorspace by 8x, decreasing energy consumption and maintenance. “We went from reserving an entire floor of a data center to requiring just a few racks, and still gaining much greater capacity,” Taroni said. “Moreover, the size of our team has remained constant, even though we’re supporting more clients.” This consolidation measurably reduced both Phoenix Systems’ energy usage and bottom-line spend.

Increased visibility

Cloud-based software can help you achieve more sustainable IT operations by observing, managing and automating IT and application resources. For example, clients using IBM Turbonomic®, a cloud-based application resource management platform, have seen a 33% reduction in cloud spend, a 75% reduction in infrastructure annual refresh costs and a 70% avoidance in future infrastructure growth spend without disrupting day-to-day business.

Greater integration

Migrating energy-optimized workloads to a hybrid cloud with more efficient software like Red Hat® OpenShift® can help reduce resources as compared with hosting them on a dedicated private cloud or server, especially when server utilization is low.

Want to dive deeper?

Many organizational leaders know that now is the time to act on sustainability but aren’t sure where to start. The challenge is to make sustainability a true business driver, while delivering ROI.

Here are a few next steps to continue your green computing journey:

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