CIOs polled in a recent Wall Street Journal survey expect sustainability to be the area in which technology has the biggest impact in their organizations over the next three years. In this last installment of our CIO Perspective Series, our own CIO, Alastair (Al) Pooley, agrees with that position. He also talks about what makes an IT estate sustainable and identifies three areas where organizations can start adopting sustainable IT practices.
Defining the sustainable tech estate
Along with other insights on sustainability that Al shared earlier this year, he shared his definition of a sustainable company. Such a company, Al says, “recognizes its corporate responsibility to lessen the harm it does to the environment and . . . global resources.” In our latest interview, he expands on those sentiments to say that sustainability is a big area which we all need to be looking at for long-term strategy, especially IT. What, however, does adopting sustainable practices look like for IT?
First, focus on energy use
Most people often start with focusing on their energy use when adopting sustainable IT practices. When looking at that usage for IT, Al would ask these three key questions:
- Where am I consuming large amounts of energy?
- Where are my datacenters? In other words, what energy sources are available where the datacenters are, and how does that factor into environmental impact?
- How much is running a physical facility costing me?
Cloud adoption is key
If an organization notices significant on-premises energy consumption, Al would advise looking at the cloud for help. Big public cloud providers are taking a greener, more sustainable approach to their energy. As Al has said before, leaving processing tasks to these providers often can be more efficient than trying to run your own. It’s also an opportunity to use autoscaling technology and run only the machines you need at any given time, depending on the design.
Study your hardware’s lifecycle
After looking at overall energy use at your facilities, evaluate your hardware’s lifecycle for your next step in adopting sustainable IT practices. Start by at the financial and environmental costs for building them in the first place. If you’re acquiring new assets, you can make an initial positive impact by adopting technologies developed for energy optimization. Also, look at how energy efficient your current assets are and see if it’s time for a refresh cycle. In Al’s view, how long you use your technology assets (laptops, phones, servers, etc.) is hugely important. Old servers, for example, tend to be less efficient in terms of the performance you get out of them.
More ideas for adopting sustainable IT practices
Before his time at Snow, Al was a Snow customer who used Snow products to get the actionable data and insights that we know as Technology Intelligence. Organizations can use that Technology Intelligence for adopting the sustainable IT practices we discussed in our interview, among many others. It provides the full visibility of your IT estate needed to spot waste and increase sustainability for your business.
Don’t forget to check out our previous CIO Perspective posts on how to start an ITAM practice, technology visibility, how to free up funds for innovation, maximizing cloud investments with FinOps and gaining Technology Intelligence with Snow Atlas.