Data is constantly being created and stored. Every minute, 240,000 pictures are added to Facebook and 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. The number of servers and data centres is steadily increasing to keep up with the vast amount of information we wish to store and share online. All of this hardware requires power to run, and even more power is needed for the air conditioning systems that keep it cool and running efficiently.
We can no longer avoid sustainable computing responsibility
In an increasingly technological world, it is now crucial that businesses are doing their part to ensure that their IT systems have the minimum possible impact on the environment. This is the responsibility of all businesses that rely on data, not just Google, Facebook, Yahoo and the rest, who store our data online.
Small businesses can raise their standing and differentiate themselves from competitors by implementing Green IT solutions. Government legislation is likely to tighten around this issue in the future. Small businesses can get ahead of the trend and avoid a greater future cost by growing with environmentally sustainable computing.
Reduce capital expenditure on equipment and increase efficiency with Cloud Computing
Do you store all of your company's data on several in-house servers? For a new business, or a business replacing its servers, the capital outlay on hardware can be quite high.
Servers take up space, require maintenance, and together with the cooling systems require a lot of energy. Under utilisation is another common problem with large servers. Disk space is held in reserve, but the running costs are the same regardless of whether you utilise the space or not. A company with 2 TB worth of data stored on a 10 TB server, still must shell out for the larger storage solution, and pay the higher cost of powering and cooling the hardware - purely so the business has room to grow.
With cloud computing, all of your data is stored in a data centre ('the cloud'), and you only pay for what you use. The cloud removes the need for any in-house equipment other than desktop PCs, but even these can be replaced with smaller, longer lasting, thin client devices.
How much does space cost in London? With everything in the cloud, you could knock through the wall to your server room and expand your office!
Reduced energy consumption lowers utility bills
By removing bulky, power sapping hardware from your offices, you will dramatically decrease your energy costs. Storing your data in a purpose-built data centre leaves efficiency to the experts. Whilst the environmental impact of data centres is large - it is much lower than the alternative of every client running their own servers in-house.
Added benefits of moving your business data to the cloud:
- You no longer have to worry about looking after physical infrastructure.
- Hardware is more reliable, and all servicing and upgrading is taken care of.
- Disaster recovery is often part of the solution. A disaster occurring local to your office will have no impact on your data as it is all in the cloud.
- Very reliable up-time in the data centre with power generated on-site, and back-up energy supplies.
- Increased security - data centres have robust security measures in place to protect clients' data.
- Run applications from the data centre too - Software as a service (SaaS) virtually eliminates the need for a bulky desktop PC. All of the actual computing can be carried out in the data centre, whilst you experience it on a thin client device which is much smaller and longer lasting, requires a fraction of the power, can easily be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way, and holds no data - so you don't have to worry who might one day come across it.
Green IT in addition to Virtualisation...
Virtualisation is a great way to reduce the environmental impact of your business' IT systems, but there is more you can do, such as implementing better power management on your devices to avoid unnecessary energy wastage.
Whilst face to face contact is preferable in many business situations, the investment of time and money into long-haul travel, as well as the environmental impact, must be weighed up versus the convenience of video and voice conferencing.
Remote working is now a serious option for businesses to become more environmentally sustainable. Reduced commuter miles, as well as decreased office space and overheads such as lighting and heating, mean that remote working can significantly reduce a business' carbon footprint. In addition, employees experience increased flexibility and a better work-life balance.
A managed print solution is another way in which businesses can embrace a Green IT approach. Many employees regularly print without thinking, or checking the settings first - which can result in printing nightmares (50-slide presentation decks coming out in colour with one slide per page!)
Using a managed print solution, you can apply default print settings to all users - such as double sided printing in black and white by default. Alternatively, you can reduce paper consumption through card or pin-controlled printing which helps to place accountability on employees and act as a deterrent to unnecessary printing.
And finally, when it comes to the time to say goodbye to your IT Equipment, ensure it is disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. Files deleted from hard drives are still recoverable, so ensure these are safely destroyed. The remaining hardware can be recycled for use in new devices or donated to charities and schools. Alternatively, metal and plastic casing parts may be recycled for use in manufacturing.