Data center sustainability becoming the norm, not the exception

Sustainability initiatives like maximizing IT equipment lifecycles, using renewable energy and more can help save money, improve the environment and insulate themselves against risk, according to Gartner report.

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The proportion of companies implementing a data center infrastructure sustainability program will rise from about 5% in 2022 all the way to 75% by 2027, as sustainability becomes an increasingly central consideration for cost optimization and risk management, according to new data from Gartner Research.

Respondents to a recent global survey of 221 IT leaders conducted by Gartner said that sustainability is already on the march within their organizations, with 42% saying that environmentally friendly choices are helping to drive business growth and provide a differentiator to their competition, and 29% reporting that it’s helping to create strategic value through industry partnerships.

“IT leaders shouldn’t just respond to stakeholder and regulatory pressures, but use them as an opportunity to proactively champion change to discover new growth opportunities, such as the innovation or adoption of new products and business models,” the report said.

According to Autumn Stanish, senior principal analyst at Gartner, part of this move towards more active sustainability initiatives is due to CIOs increasingly handing off that responsibility to dedicated infrastructure and operations leaders.

“This has led many down the path of greater spend and investment in environmental solutions, but environmental impact shouldn’t be the only focus,” said Stanish, in the report. “Sustainability can also have a significant positive impact on non-environmental factors, such as brand, innovation, resilience and attracting talent.”

Many sustainability initiatives focus on simply buying less technology, which reduces transportation costs, e-waste and energy-based carbon footprints. Gartner’s report, however, said that organizations can realize cost savings of up to 60% by extending product life spans, and that optimizing storage capacity for more efficient use can also reduce e-waste and save money.

Any sustainability initiative, not just those based on maximizing existing capacity and buying less equipment, can also free up resources for the wave of new technology currently being deployed, including AI and analytics. Open telemetry platforms, for example, could be used to gain insights into energy use at a given organization and optimize it for both cost savings and less environmental impact.

Finally, in a chaotic market still suffering from supply chain issues and subject to fluctuating prices, longer lifecycles for equipment and the use of renewable energy can help insulate businesses against risk — avoiding, for example, the need to buy expensive new equipment at a high price just because of a security issue or shift in the market.

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