Data growth and environmental sustainability



With the climate crisis making daily headlines, organizations from all sectors are making sustainable development a priority issue. Proactive business leaders understand that implementing a sustainability strategy enables them to reduce the carbon footprint of their operations while meeting the needs of their customers. In contrast, those who take a do nothing approach increasingly find that their decision is a recipe for future losses.

With so many at stake, organizations are looking for ways to improve resource efficiency while building a sustainable model for the future. This includes considering the impact of data centers, especially as data volumes increase. Because data centers consume natural resources, they play an undeniably important role in any business sustainability strategy.

Data volumes explode

According to a 2020 study in the AAAS Science Journal, data center workloads have increased six-fold over the past decade. This is largely due to the growth in mobile and cloud computing traffic, as well as the expansion in the development and adoption of technologies, including IoT and AI. Unstructured data is growing at an exponential rate, resulting in the need for more storage capacity. For the majority of organizations, their current data center infrastructure is unlikely to be sufficient to handle future data center workloads.

Energy consumption increases

More data equals more power consumption by data centers. But how much energy exactly? That same 2020 study from the AAAS Science Journal found that data centers currently account for around 1% of the world’s total electrical power consumption. Much of this is used to prevent storage from overheating and compromising data. Computer equipment generates a lot of heat and must be kept cool to operate efficiently.

What about the water?

But there is more to the story. Water is another vital resource that forms the environmental footprint of a data center. A medium-sized data center uses approximately 130 million gallons of water per year– roughly the same amount of water as 100 acres of almond trees, three medium-sized hospitals, or two 18-hole golf courses. As water availability is likely to be degraded by climate change, organizations should also consider data center water use when calculating their impact on the environment.

Old data centers just aren’t efficient

Although organizations are increasingly investing in sustainability initiatives, inefficient legacy data centers are still common. And their use of heat-generating spinning discs requires a lot of electricity, water, and money to keep them running and cool. Too often, the focus is only on maintaining uptime, rather than doing it in an environmentally friendly way. Energy consumption is not tracked. Meanwhile, costs and energy continue to rise as data workloads increase.

As climate-related challenges continue to increase, organizations are faced with the reality that the environment can no longer support the impact of data storage on outdated and inefficient technology. Even those who have made the switch to all-flash see data growing exponentially and understand that the cutting edge technologies they invest in today will eventually hit a new environmental limit.

Is 100% flash a solution?

The key to long-term sustainability is to choose data storage designed to reduce power consumption, cooling, and waste. By switching from a spinning disk to solid-state media, the flash datacenter footprint can shrink dramatically.

Pure 100% flash berries were built specifically to improve environmental sustainability in the data center. With higher density, lower power consumption and lower cooling costs, they have an impressive impact on operations and customer costs while supporting sustainability initiatives. For example, FlashArray // C is optimized to help organizations, including those with huge capacity needs, reduce their footprint. Even as their capacity needs continue to grow, businesses can reduce their data center footprint with Pure. And by switching from a hybrid system to all-flash, they also reduce high power and cooling costs and wasted capacity.

Environmental responsibility beyond the data center

In addition to choosing technologies that support greater sustainability, it is also important to choose suppliers that are environmentally and economically responsible. It’s not just about cost, but also getting it right.

What does it look like exactly?

At Pure, this means optimizing the end-to-end supply chain by:

  • Switch to recyclable packaging and eliminate packaging waste
  • Choose a sustainable supplier network
  • Adopt quality-driven manufacturing processes
  • Consolidation of documents
  • Continuous improvement and optimization

It also means focusing on social responsibility, obtaining LEED certification on buildings, reducing the use of printers, choosing renewable energy sources, and much more. As a result of these efforts, Pure offers less power, less cooling, and less waste than other storage vendors, making it a smart choice for organizations that adopt sustainable practices.

The benefits of a sustainable data storage strategy

The message is clearer than ever. Sustainability is now a necessity in today’s business environment, and it has many benefits. Making the decision to move to more sustainable data storage can be part of a larger strategy that increases efficiency, adds brand value, meets consumer demands, and creates new opportunities.

To learn more about the transition to a greener data center, download the eBook The greener path to a sustainable data architecture.


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