Five ways data storage can advance your sustainability ambitions

Dell Technologies

By Michael Cole, Director, Storage Platform Solutions, Dell Technologies, Australia and New Zealand
Tuesday, 30 January, 2024


Five ways data storage can advance your sustainability ambitions

As the world becomes increasingly focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, IT departments are actively driving sustainability efforts. No wonder, as IT is a significant contributor to energy consumption and there are considerable sustainability gains to be made with taking the right approach.

Many organisations are already heading down that sustainability path. According to the Dell Innovation Index, 52% of companies in Asia–Pacific and Japan (APJ) are actively working to reduce their overall IT carbon footprint. Additionally, 40% of APJ companies are turning to technology to get better visibility into their carbon impact. This tech lets them make data-driven sustainability decisions.

And the reality is, there’s a pressing need for companies to lift their game when it comes to sustainability. The massive growth in data has a knock-on effect in terms of data centre and storage power consumption and efficiency.

Then there’s the fact that we’ve seen the most significant energy price increases in the last 50 years, which makes data centres — and the massive amounts of power they consume — expensive to own and operate. Globally, they consume1 approximately 200 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity, which is nearly 1% of all global electricity demand. It’s no surprise that implementing a green data centre2 and hitting the “Environmental” aspect of ESG is top of mind for IT decision-makers.

That’s where modern storage comes in. There are five key benefits to sustainable data storage and how it can pave the way for a more energy-efficient and sustainable future.

1. Energy efficiency

Sustainable data storage solutions are designed to minimise energy consumption by utilising advanced hardware technologies, including solid-state drives (SSDs) and energy-efficient processors. By optimising power usage, organisations can significantly reduce their electricity bills while also shrinking their carbon footprint.

Software-defined storage: Virtualisation technologies and cloud computing play a pivotal role in sustainable data storage. By consolidating physical servers into virtual machines, you can achieve higher server utilisation rates, reducing the energy required to power and cool your hardware. Cloud-based storage solutions further enhance sustainability by offering on-demand scalability, allowing you to scale your storage capacity efficiently. The cloud’s shared infrastructure also enables resource pooling, optimising energy consumption and reducing waste, leading to a greener data centre.

2. Cost savings enabled by advanced technologies

The adoption of sustainable IT data storage can lead to substantial cost savings for your organisation. By optimising resource allocation and implementing advanced solutions that help drive energy efficiency, you can reduce your hardware and maintenance costs. High-density storage arrays can maximise your physical data centre footprint while reducing your carbon emissions and environmental footprint. For instance, the PowerMax 2500 delivers over 5x the effective capacity per watt consumed (PBe/watt) compared to the previous PowerMax generation.

Edge computing and artificial intelligence: Optimisation continues to gain traction as sustainable alternatives to traditional centralised data storage. By decentralising data processing and storage, edge computing reduces latency, enhances data security and minimises the need for extensive network infrastructure.

This aligns well with businesses’ sustainability goals, as you can reduce energy consumption and achieve greater operational efficiency. Additionally, AI-powered algorithms can analyse and optimise your data storage processes, ensuring energy-efficient operations. Machine learning algorithms can identify patterns in data usage, enabling proactive measures, such as data tiering, where frequently accessed data is stored on faster, lower-energy drives. By dynamically managing data placement and resource allocation, AI optimisation can reduce your energy consumption and enhance overall storage efficiency.

3. Minimising data footprints

Data deduplication and compression techniques are gaining popularity in sustainable data storage strategies. These methods eliminate your redundant or duplicate data, reducing storage requirements and enhancing overall system efficiency. Minimising your data footprint creates cost savings, improves backup and recovery times, and reduces energy consumption. As data continues to grow exponentially, deduplication and compression technologies will become increasingly vital for sustainable storage practices.

4. Environmental conservation

Traditional data storage infrastructure often consumes massive amounts of energy and relies on non-renewable resources. Sustainable data storage solutions, on the other hand, leverage renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, reducing carbon emissions and minimising environmental impact. Moreover, adopting renewable energy sources to power your data centre further reinforces your commitment to a sustainable future.

5. Regulatory compliance

Governments and regulatory bodies worldwide are imposing stricter environmental regulations, including those related to data storage. Sustainable storage practices help you comply with these regulations, avoiding penalties and legal complications. By embracing eco-friendly data storage solutions, you can stay ahead of compliance requirements and demonstrate your commitment to sustainable business practices.

Advancing sustainability, together

The growth of sustainable data storage is a testament to the industry’s commitment to mitigating the environmental impact of data storage practices. From virtualisation and cloud computing to renewable energy integration and emerging technologies like edge computing and AI optimisation, sustainable data storage continues to evolve. As organisations adopt and advance these practices, they not only secure their long-term viability but also contribute to a greener, more efficient and sustainable future.

1. https://www.datacenterfrontier.com/voices-of-the-industry/article/11427887/for-the-balance-sheet-and-the-sake-of-the-planet-its-time-data-centers-reduce-power-consumption-by-improving-utilization
2. https://www.dell.com/en-us/blog/rising-to-the-challenge-of-a-green-data-center/

Image credit: iStock.com/baranozdemir

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