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Published: 16 September 2020
This Article was Written by: Justin Sutton-Parker - Computer Science PhD Researcher MBA, Sustainability and Leadership
This article first appeared in our I.T. special issue of of My Green Pod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 16 September 2020. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
I.T.-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are responsible for as much as 5% of global emissions due to embodied pollution, energy use and commuting.
A recent study suggests a forest the size Canada and Greenland would be required to sequester the sector’s pollution.
As a leading I.T. solutions provider, Cetus is helping to change that worrying statistic by supporting organisations that want to reduce their environmental impact.
Cetus is taking ‘4 simple steps’ to sustainable I.T., encouraging the adoption of I.T. solutions that can:
- Enable restriction-free end-user computing device selection so organisations can plan for and buy energy-efficient devices
- Create secure and flexible working capabilities that increase home or local working, decrease commuting and encourage modal shift
- Enable organisations to move from less efficient on-premises data centres to highly efficient, carbon-zero cloud data centres powered or underpinned by renewable energy consumption and investment
- Extend the useful lifespan of devices to reduce annual embodied GHG emissions as organisations delay refreshes of I.T. devices
Cetus is a hybrid cloud and workspace specialist with two decades’ experience in helping public and private sectors to achieve their business objectives through technology.
A Citrix platinum partner with long-standing partnerships with leading vendors, Cetus is a safe pair of hands to help you on the journey to more sustainable I.T. Its business case methodology looks at the financial benefits and emissions reductions of I.T. transformation projects.
To support you with your sustainability journey, Cetus offers a Cloud & Infrastructure Transformation Assessment and Workspace assessments. It uses I.T. discovery and undertakes research to establish a baseline for your computing requirements, end-user device estate and the applications used to provide a clear picture of the changes that need to be made to help you make the move to a more energy-efficient future.
What is sustainable I.T.?
Over the past few decades, Cetus has become more aware of the negative impact that our energy consumption has on the world.
Sustainable I.T. builds on the principles of Green I.T. – reducing the environmental impact of I.T. products and infrastructure.
Despite the excess emissions created by I.T., only 40% of businesses have formal plans to address this impact as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy or Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) obligations.
We all have an important role to play in acting collectively and responsibly to ensure a cleaner and healthier world, not just for ourselves but also for future generations.
Why is now the time to act?
The SECR policy was introduced last year, and supports the government’s net zero emissions target.
The policy stipulates that companies now need to report on energy usage, GHG emissions and at least one emissions intensity metric for their current and previous financial year.
Companies are required to submit a description of measures taken to improve their energy efficiency during the year.
I.T. practices present a great opportunity to reduce energy consumption; your I.T. strategy is one of the primary ways to make a positive impact on your company’s carbon footprint.
In the annual list of CIO priorities, sustainability falls behind security, application performance and scalability. The irony is that by adopting the right strategic approach, all these priorities can be addressed holistically rather than in silos.
Even small changes can reduce the impact of I.T. on the environment. Powering or cooling I.T. contributes to around 10% of all electricity consumption. A typical Windows desktop PC consumes 200 watts, whereas the consumption of thin client devices such as Chromebooks can be as low as 6 watts.
Over a three-year period, the total life cost of a thin client device is 35% less than a Windows PC delivering a similar function; with a software thin client, the savings can be as high as 47%.
When Professor Robert Kelly was interrupted by his children during a BBC interview in 2017, who would have thought it was a foretaste of the reality we now all experience on a daily basis?
While collaboration software such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom is a relatively recent innovation, delivering desktops and applications from the data centre is not new. In fact, Cetus has been delivering workspace solutions for over 20 years.
The Covid-19 crisis drove the most rapid digital transformation shift we have ever witnessed and forced the almost-overnight adoption of remote working across many industries. This drastic increase in remote working has demonstrated what it is truly possible.
‘It’s clear that by using digital virtualisation and workspace technologies to empower flexible and remote work models, companies can positively impact sustainability.’
Executive vice president of Citrix
Balance and wellbeing
Numerous studies have shown that remote working can have a positive impact on productivity, performance and retention. For many of us, this shifting paradigm in work patterns has reinforced the notion that work is not a place you go, but something you do.
A study produced by CEBR found that by reducing commuting hours and consolidating offices through sustainable I.T. practices, remote work could help reduce annual CO2 emissions by 214 million tonnes.
Despite this, the importance of face-to-face interaction in business contexts has not diminished. We can’t all work remotely, and for those who can, it may not be a full-time solution. Balance is key but with the right strategy – underpinned by the right technology platform – we can significantly reduce emissions while improving an individual’s work-life balance and wellbeing.
8 million on-premises data centres consume 3% of global electricity – and 40% of data centres are energy inefficient, incurring unnecessary expense and significantly contributing to I.T.’s energy and emissions.
Carbon-zero cloud computing allows for delivery from an energy-efficient data centre, and ‘hyperscale’ service providers are increasingly using renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions.
Transitioning from data centres to hyperscale-hosted cloud services can help to reduce your environmental impact. AWS customers need only 16% of the power of an on-premise infrastructure while Azure (powered by 70% renewable energy) is 44% more efficient than the average on-premise data centre.
While hyperscalers have driven efficiencies and flexibility to a new level, considerations around cost, management, complexity, the sovereignty of data and the need for on-premise resources mean a wholesale migration to a hyperscaler is not necessarily the right move for all organisations.
A hosted desktop solution using products such as Citrix and Microsoft Virtual Desktop may provide a better solution thanks to the power savings, manageability, performance and security enhancements.
With a correctly deployed and energy-efficient hosted desktop solution in place, end-user device security is easier to manage as the information displayed on the device is securely held in the data centre; only screen and keyboard requests are transmitted from the device.
Extend the life of a device
The sustainability benefits of a hosted desktop environment can also extend the effective lifecycle of the desktop PC. It is estimated that around 50% of the total whole-life emissions of a PC relate to manufacturing and distribution. Therefore, extending the effective life of a PC and monitor has a significant and positive overall impact on the carbon footprint of your end-user device estate.
Technology offered by Citrix allows students to remotely access the processing power of high-power graphics workstations on campus from virtually any end-user device.
Organisations in the healthcare and local government sectors have both financial and logistical challenges to manage as Windows 7 operating reached the end of its support lifecycle earlier this year. This virtual approach can be used to deliver a secure and supported Windows desktop on equipment that would otherwise be discarded.
Although not as efficient as a thin client device, using a compatible browser or a simple installed piece of software, a functioning but unsupported Windows 7 PC can deliver a virtual Windows 10 desktop – even though the memory and supported operating system to process it locally are absent from the device.
Microsoft and Citrix
Earlier this year, Microsoft and Citrix strengthened their long-standing partnership by announcing a multi-year agreement in which Microsoft will promote Citrix Workspace as a preferred digital workspace solution for the ‘future of work’.
Citrix will use Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud services provider, moving existing on-premises Citrix customers to Microsoft Azure and enabling users to work from anywhere across multiple devices.
Build a sustainable I.T. model
In broad terms, if you are looking for the most carbon-efficient means of delivering I.T. to your business, you need to minimise commuting and business travel by architecting for remote working, address energy-inefficient data centres and switch to more energy-efficient devices.
In order to achieve this, you need to consider cloud (or hybrid cloud) and workspace as part of your I.T. strategy.
It is important for businesses to understand where they are on this journey – which constraints exist and how to deliver a strategy that not only enhances the user experience but also has a positive impact on business as usual. If you need a helping hand to guide you on the pathway to achieving sustainable I.T., Cetus will take you on that journey and will act as your guiding star.