The Green Cloud
The shift from on-premise infrastructure to the cloud delivers significant business benefits. It enables entirely new applications and ways of working, while it is agile and scalable, providing greater cost predictability for finance departments.
The cloud can be viewed as an environmentally positive measure. If data and applications are hosted and delivered by remote data centres, the need for IT departments to periodically purchase and refresh their physical infrastructure is significantly reduced.
This reduces electronic waste and energy costs as there is less requirement to power multiple local servers. The environmental impacts go beyond a business level too as public cloud vendors invest significant sums in energy efficiency. Research suggests Microsoft Cloud servers are up to 93% more energy efficient than traditional enterprise data centres. This efficiency is achieved through more capable chips and better designs, but also through renewable energy projects.
Organisations eager to be more environmentally conscious should also consider a more sustainable approach to hardware. Lifecycle management should become more flexible and pragmatic so that devices are replaced when needed – not just because an arbitrary time period has expired. Similarly, organisations should explore whether they need to supply certain staff with corporate devices.
A Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy reduces waste by allowing employees to use their own smartphone to access corporate data and applications. Staff are happier because they can use their own device, while the use of Mobile Device Management (MDM) means there are fewer restrictions – increasing satisfaction and engagement. Costs and electronic waste (e-waste) are both reduced.
Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) is similar to BYOD except for the fact the device is corporately owned. Under this model, organisations should only give the choice of a smartphone that is easily repaired, or can be recycled responsibly.
The adoption of new technologies and practices can deliver environmental and business benefits, but this is only part of the equation. Organisations should also ensure they have a strategy to responsibly dispose of devices too.
E-waste from computers, mobile phones, and other electronics will reach 15.4 million tons by 2020 and 27.22 million tons by 2030, growing at an average annual rate of 10.4%.1 Only a fraction of this is recycled responsibly. Indeed, there are 40 million unused devices in the UK alone, leading to concerns that rare elements required for production could run out2.
This has huge repercussions because of the toxic materials that are released if a device is not disposed of correctly. There have been some improvements within the IT industry, with many vendors pledging to offer responsible recycling initiatives, eliminate the use of harmful chemicals from their products, and move away from non-recyclable packaging.
What To Do Now
Device-as-a-Service (DaaS) is a subscription-based approach to hardware that sees organisations pay on a per-user basis for devices, support, and lifecycle management services. Devices are replaced according to the optimum lifespan of the device, while refresh cycles can be altered according to the needs of an individual or group within an organisation.
The use of analytics also extends the lifespan by enabling predictive maintenance. Crucially, device disposal is built into the subscription, offering cost predictability for device management.
Another route is IT Disposal-as-a-Service (ITDaaS). These services take away old equipment that might not be of any use to a business anymore, but is still of value to other users. Organisations can avoid the cost of disposing of the hardware responsibly and can even get some financial compensation for their redundant hardware.
Aside from the environmental impact of recycling, the other consideration is data privacy. Organisations should ensure that any device that is being disposed of is free from corporate and customer data, or ensure that the provider disposing of the equipment is accredited to take care of this for them.
A data breach can be damaging to an organisation’s business and reputation. Regulators and governments do not look upon an incident favourably, especially with GDPR now in full effect.
Changes to a technology strategy can contribute significantly to wider sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives while delivering additional benefits to the entire business. Whether the primary driver is cost or sustainability, it’s time to take action.
For more information, please contact HE.Sales@Insight.com.