Published on November 8, 2023, 10:44 pm

Gartner predicts that by 2027, 75% of organizations will have implemented a data center infrastructure sustainability program driven by cost optimization and stakeholder pressures, up from less than 5% in 2022.

Responsibilities for sustainability are increasingly being passed down from CIOs to infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders to improve IT’s environmental performance, particularly around data centers,” said Autumn Stanish, senior principal analyst at Gartner.

She added that this has led many down the path of greater spending and investment in environmental solutions but environmental impact shouldn’t be the only focus.

“Sustainability can also have a significant positive impact on non-environmental factors, such as brand, innovation, resilience, and attracting talent,” said Autumn Stanish.

A Gartner survey revealed that the environmental performance of IT infrastructure is only one facet of a strong I&O sustainability strategy, with most sustainability benefits being indirect.

Stanish commented that success in aligning the I&O strategy with critical business outcomes requires a more comprehensive approach that recognizes the indirect benefits of sustainable IT operations.

“This is true specifically for organizations in which IT is material to the business, such as financial services,” she opined.

Top three indirect benefits:

Reduced Costs

The most effective action I&O leaders can take for the environment and their budget is to defer purchasing new equipment and better manage, optimize or redeploy what they already have.

According to Gartner, organizations can experience up to 60% in cost savings by simply extending product lifespans from three to five years. In addition, optimizing for better server utilization and storage capacity is another way to reduce waste and save money.

Innovation

Organizations are using sustainable strategies to drive innovation and growth through new products and business models. Technology hardware vendors are rapidly releasing new products and services based on AI technology, analytics insights, and circular business models that can be leveraged for innovation.

For example, open telemetry platforms may be deployed to track and improve energy efficiency while simultaneously offering critical insights for IT staff to understand usage patterns that can be optimized for greater, more consistent performance of systems.

“The core focus of many enterprises with a sustainability strategy is actually around how they can use it to drive innovation, differentiation, and growth through new products and business models,” said Stanish.

She conceded that fewer than half of I&O leaders Gartner speaks to are currently taking advantage of the business benefits beyond reduced energy costs.

Better Risk Management and Mitigation

In a market disrupted by price fluctuations and supply constraints, organizations can achieve greater resilience and better risk management and mitigation by adopting sustainable recycling and resource utilization practices. This includes organizations using renewable energy, generating their own power, and reusing and redeploying equipment as much as possible.

The Gartner survey revealed that more than 85% of business leaders agree that sustainability is an investment that protects the organization from disruption.

In conclusion, implementing a data center infrastructure sustainability program driven by cost optimization and stakeholder pressures has become a priority for organizations. It not only helps reduce costs but also drives innovation, improves brand reputation, attracts talent, and enhances risk management. By taking a comprehensive approach to sustainable IT operations, organizations can unlock these indirect benefits while making a positive impact on the environment.

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