By 25 October 2023 | Categories: feature articles


By Darrin Murray, Storage Platforms and Solutions Sales Manager for Dell Technologies South Africa

As the world becomes increasingly focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, IT departments are actively driving sustainability efforts. According to Enterprise Strategy Group research, a significant majority (93%) of IT decision makers consider a supplier's ESG programme when making IT purchasing decisions.

Moreover, in today's digital age the exponential growth of data has put immense pressure on organisations to adopt sustainable practices in every aspect of their operations. Combine that with the most significant energy price increases the world has seen in five decades, and the fact that data centres consume approximately 200 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity, which is nearly 1% of all global electricity demand, it comes as no surprise that implementing a green data centre and hitting the ‘Environmental’ aspect of ESG is top of mind for IT decision makers. This is particularly critical in South Africa, where electricity tariffs have increased by around 450% since the start of load shedding in 2008.

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 using 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, organisations can achieve higher server utilisation rates, reducing the energy required to power and cool hardware. Cloud-based storage solutions further enhance sustainability by offering on-demand scalability, allowing businesses to scale their storage capacity efficiently. The cloud's shared infrastructure also enables resource pooling, optimising energy consumption and reducing waste, leading to a greener data centre.

Cost savings enabled by advanced technologies: The adoption of sustainable IT data storage can lead to substantial cost savings for organisations. By optimising resource allocation and implementing advanced solutions that help drive energy efficiency, businesses can reduce their hardware and maintenance costs. Organisations that adopt high-density storage arrays can maximise their physical data centre footprint while reducing their 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.

2.Edge Computing & 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 organisations can reduce energy consumption and achieve greater operational efficiency. Additionally, AI-powered algorithms can analyse and optimise 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 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 redundant or duplicate data, reducing storage requirements and enhancing overall system efficiency. By minimising data footprints, organisations can achieve cost savings, improved backup and recovery times, and reduced 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 data centres further reinforces an organisation’s 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 organisations comply with these regulations, avoiding penalties and legal complications. By embracing eco-friendly data storage solutions, enterprises can stay ahead of compliance requirements and demonstrate their 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.

As the IT industry places increasing emphasis on ESG initiatives, Dell Technologies stands at the forefront of advancing sustainability in data centres. With a modern storage portfolio focused on energy efficiency, thermals and cooling, and infrastructure consolidation, Dell empowers organisations to navigate the challenges of a data-driven world while minimising their environmental impact.


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