net zero carbon emissions

IT’s role in the Decarbonisation of Australia

Technology has more environmental impact now than ever before. Nathan Knight, Hitachi Vantara’s Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand, shares advice and resources to support a focus on decarbonisation and sustainability from an IT perspective.

Globally, data centres emit more greenhouse gasses than the entire airline industry. This is a staggering realisation. Explosive data growth, digital transformation, the increased reliance on digital services and cloud computing, the popularity of video streaming, the roll out of advanced AI and ML implementations and more, have resulted in an increase in emissions from data centres to the point where action must be taken. It takes a great deal of energy to run all these services and, to-date, this has involved significant reliance on non-renewable resources such as coal and natural gas.

With the benefit of working for a company – Hitachi Vantara – that has followed a rigorous process for lowering the carbon footprint of its systems for more than a decade, I can confidently say that it is possible to decarbonise while you digitalise.

While you are digitalising more and more of your operations, offerings and services for business benefits such as customer experience improvements and cost savings, you can also be working towards your decarbonisation objectives. You can also maintain a focus on sustainability. IT has a critical role to play.

If you choose your solutions and partners wisely and infuse their efforts with your decarbonisation objectives, with the right insight and guidance, the organisation’s CO2 emissions can be driven down bit by bit. 

4 Resources to Support Decarbonisation Efforts

As your organisation is striving to figure out how to do its part, here are four Did-You-Knows to incorporate into your research and planning.

Did you know Corporate Australia’s net zero progress is being tracked? Climateworks Centre is an organisation founded by Monash University and The Myer Foundation. Its Net Zero Momentum Tracker analyses ASX200 companies’ emissions reduction commitments to assess their alignment with achieving net zero emissions in time to support the Paris Agreement objective of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. 

The tracker and associated reports are free and accessible online and for download, and not only does this allow you to check on which Australian organisations have made commitments to reduce their emissions, it means you can benchmark your organisation’s decarbonisation efforts against your competitors, partners and peers.

Did you know funds have been dedicated to help shift Australian businesses towards zero emissions? A range of Government, State and Territory grant programs, tax incentives and other solutions are available to assist companies with funding energy efficiency projects. For example, government has established a $43M Industrial Energy Transformation Studies Program. It makes funding available to encourage manufacturers and others to consider decarbonisation efforts including technologies that enable greater flexibility and responsiveness of energy demand, such as digitalisation.

Did you know you can estimate your organisation’s CO2 Emissions? Our online CO2 estimator tool allows any organisation the ability to examine their current data centre carbon footprint and identify steps they can take to reduce their energy use by up to 96% without sacrificing on their storage needs.

Did you know you can Decarbonise while you Digitalise?

Case Study: Gijima, a leading South African IT company, deployed Hitachi VSP (virtual storage platform) systems at its production data centre and additional arrays for disaster recovery. It was looking to support improvements to client services on a technical and commercial level, while keeping sustainability in mind. The all-flash storage systems replaced bulkier spinning-disk arrays, significantly consolidating the physical infrastructure, reducing from nine racks to three in the production data centre, and freeing up additional racks at the disaster recovery site. Early results already indicate a 66% reduction in power, cooling, and space requirements, which will reduce CO2 emissions and help Gijima save on energy costs.

Here are some ways to prioritise sustainability and ESG objectives as part of your digital transformation efforts:

  • Application modernisation  Does your company have its own data centre? Perhaps it leases racks in a data centre or uses cloud, as-a-service options and managed services. Many organisations utilise a combination of these options. Regardless, the associated data centre(s) must be powered and cooled 24/7 and – even if it’s the cloud or service provider’s data centre – this still counts toward your business’ overall carbon footprint.

App modernisation can provide up to 50% savings in terms of server capacity, reducing the energy consumption of the data centres that service the business, and cutting carbon emissions along with the power bill.

  • Smarter Data Management – Modernising your data management strategy and technology choices can contribute to a smaller infrastructure footprint, with associated reduction in energy usage and carbon emissions. Practical steps include de-duplication of data sets and opting for technology such as object storage which – among other benefits – optimises the storage and management of large volumes of data.  

    Applying the right storage virtualisation technology to existing storage environments can also reduce CO2 emissions. If you opt for an operating system with enhanced data reduction technology, you can store more data within your existing storage capacity.

    It also makes sense to remove the need for data migration during digital transformation efforts such as upgrades to next generation storage systems. Not only is it time consuming and considered risky in terms of potential data loss or service interruption, but it requires old and new systems to run in parallel throughout the migration phase. Such processes consume a lot more power, require additional cooling and floorspace and can take months to complete.
  • CO2 emissions assessment along the digitalisation process. During a data centre assessment for one of our customers, we are able to identify that one option under consideration – a storage NVMe flash configuration – created 2.5 times more CO2 compared to the other – an SSD with SAS interface solution.
  • Partnering with organisations that are reducing their own emissions. More than 80% of the value-chain CO2 emissions of a storage product are related to its use after it is sold. At Hitachi Vantara, we are decarbonising our own offices and factories as well as developing new low-carbon infrastructure for our customers. In fact, between generations of our storage solutions, we cut carbon emissions between 30% to 40% compared to previous models – this includes in the procurement of raw materials, production, transportation, five years of use and final recycle.

For more information about Hitachi Vantara’s efforts in sustainability, click here.

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