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September 1, 2017

Virtualisation dominates Green IT as companies tackle carbon footprint

Automation is set to see significant investment as organisations look to go green.

By Ellie Burns

Green IT and sustainability is fast becoming a key priority on the corporate social responsibility agenda for organisations around the world. As sea levels rise and the impact of climate change is felt by millions experiencing drought, floods, hurricanes and disease, organisations are looking to reduce the carbon footprint of their organisation – with IT playing an important two-fold role.

On the one hand, Green IT looks at reducing the impact of an organisation’s computing operation, while on the other the services of IT can be utilised to help reduce the organisation’s overall carbon footprint.

The emergence of Green IT has come at a critical time for the IT industry, with a recent Greenpeace report throwing a worrying spotlight on the energy use of the IT sector.

“The energy footprint of the IT sector is already estimated to consume approximately 7% of global electricity,” said the report.

“With an anticipated threefold increase in global internet traffic by 2020, the internet’s energy footprint is expected to rise further, fueled both by our individual consumption of data and by the spread of the digital age to more of the world’s population, from 3 billion to over 4 billion globally.”

READ MORE: 15 of the worst companies for renewable energy – Greenpeace report

To be fair, tech giants have responded to the worrying stats and growing public pressure, with many committing to renewable energy. Facebook was the first big name to promise to go green back in 2011, followed  by Apple and Google in 2012 and Amazon and Microsoft in 2014. Now, over 60% of the US Fortune 100 and 43% of the US Fortune 500 have adopted renewable targets, with companies looking to be recognised for being ‘responsible’ with their energy footprint.

But pledges and commitments tell us little with how organsiations are going green, namely what technology they are deploying and utilising in order to meet renewable targets. A global survey carried out by Global Data has, however, given insights into the specific technology currently used by organisations aiming to go green.

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Server virtualisation was found to be the number one Green IT solution currently in use by those surveyed, with nearly 75% of respondents having already deployed the technology.

Virtualisation in many of its guises was found to be among the most popular solutions, with network virtualisation (66%), storage virtualisation (63%) and desktop virtualisation (61%) all currently in use by organisations. It should come as no surprise that virtualisation is the leading green IT solution, with the technology reducing the amount of energy used and energy wasted thanks to fewer servers needed.

Such is the importance of virtualistion for green IT initiatives that those surveyed are considering to increase investment in storage virtualisation over the next two years – this will see this virtualisation segment leapfrog the second most used green IT solution, printing and paper management.

Interestingly, automation – the buzzword of the moment – was the least used Green IT solution among those surveyed. However, organisations are set to increase investment into automation significantly over the next two years, with this solution set to garner more investment than desktop virtualisation and data centre power and cooling reduction technologies.

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