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How AI and circularity can drive business results while slashing emissions and waste in the IT sector
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
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This article first appeared in our COP28 issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published 30 November 2023. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

We live in an increasingly connected world, making safe and speedy networks a must.

At the same time, we are embracing hybrid roles that split time between home, cafés, hubs and offices, putting security and simplicity front and centre for employees and employers alike.

But sustainability is just as important – for keeping IT costs low, attracting eco-savvy recruits and reporting on environmental and social impacts.

‘The biggest challenge is how to reduce the use of energy and resulting greenhouse gas emissions in delivering differentiated customer experiences’, explains Jai Thattil, Head of Industry and Sustainability Marketing at Juniper Networks. ‘This is not just a sustainability issue but also an operational cost issue.’

AI-powered savings

Juniper has been innovating and improving the efficiency of its silicon for every generation of products, and the network provider focuses on AI and automation, alongside intelligent power management, to help customers use power, space and other resources more efficiently.

‘Juniper is a leader in AI-driven networks’ Jai tells us. ‘AI and automation are our key pillars for delivering experience-first networking. They help our customers to act fast and without errors, solve issues proactively and simplify operations.’

Beyond user experience, Juniper has found AI is a helpful tool for tackling climate change. It can help companies better understand resource use and improve efficiency; in a network AI can help indicate which resources are used when, and turn off the unused ones without affecting experience.

‘With different AI models we can understand data patterns and address issues before they occur’, Jai says. ‘This helps to cut waste; AI can calculate and predict the optimal use of things like water for agriculture and energy for lighting.’

For these reasons Jai believes AI has a huge role to play in achieving a sustainable future. ‘Think about precision agriculture, manufacturing, enhanced weather and disaster prediction to channel resources accordingly, improved energy use with clean grids’, he says. ‘All these will contribute to emissions reductions.’

There is a downside to AI – namely heavy resource use and high computation power – though Jai believes AI can do more good than harm to the environment. ‘There is still a multitude of AI uses we have barely touched so far’, he says.

Achieving net zero

Juniper’s focus on improving power efficiencies, alongside the use of automation and AI, helps its customers to reduce the emissions from their networks.

This is important; Juniper has pledged to achieve net zero by 2040 and is working with customers and partners to ensure its products and solutions are helping them to progress in their own sustainability objectives.

‘We are also increasing our use of renewable energy across our facilities and operations’, Jai tells us. ‘In fact, we recently commissioned a 54-acre solar farm in India to deliver renewable energy to one of our biggest operations, in Bengaluru. This will also help to reduce the scope 3 emissions for customers with us in their supply chain.’

Juniper is also exploring some innovative cooling techniques for data centres – it recently showcased liquid cooling for BT’s data centres – and consistently explores ways to reduce harmful materials in its products.

Simple solutions, such as the Try and Buy scheme – a risk-free trial of Juniper products before buying – and Certified pre-owned programme – where Juniper helps redistribute products with updated hardware and software – run alongside Juniper’s sustainable sourcing programme for end-of-use products as ways to minimise waste.

‘Product circularity, including the recycling of e-waste, is a big challenge which varies
geographically and depends on regulatory mandates as well’, Jai accepts; ‘There are also broader sustainability goals set by governments and organisations which have an impact on all vendors. Juniper is focusing on reducing emissions through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) so that we are taking concrete, verifiable steps to deliver sustainable solutions to our customers.’

Empowered connections

Juniper has a reputation for thinking from a customer perspective and developing solution strategies that are directly relevant to their problems and business objectives.

A key objective is for clients to deliver improved customer experience to end users (internal and external) through efficient operations enabled by Juniper.

‘We believe that powering connections will bring us closer together while empowering us all to solve the world’s greatest challenges of wellbeing, sustainability and equality’, Jai tells us. ‘Overall, we say that a network that is ‘up’ is not the same as one that is ‘good’. We believe it is important that every user has a consistently positive experience. This includes performance, availability, security and sustainability.’

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