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Sustainability-as-a-service: how tech companies are going green

Sustainability-as-a-service: how tech companies are going green

Sustainability-as-a-service: how tech companies are going green

Sustainability is an increasingly important consideration for technology companies and their customers. And it will continue to rise up the boardroom agenda as legislators consider new climate change laws over the coming years. A recent trip to Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) in Glasgow revealed exactly how big tech firms are hoping to tap this new demand: by shifting more customers to the cloud, improving utilisation of existing technologies and re-certifying older assets for use.

Glasgow goes green

CONTEXT analysts were invited to an HPE event which recently took place at the company’s Erskine site, one of two facilities worldwide where HPE is re-certifying older IT assets. In fact, during our tour we saw 100,000 pieces of hardware — everything from notebooks and desktops to printers, servers and storage devices — ready to hit the market again. This is good news for businesses looking for a bargain but also existing customers, which benefit financially from the resale of their old kit.

HPE combines this offering with cloud migration and IT asset management services to help companies become greener and more efficient. The reality is that storage space utilisation stands at just 56% today, and around 30% of server capacity is unused in many datacentres worldwide. Those under-utilised assets cost a great deal of money, with 73% of initial capital expenditure for a typical large datacentre going on IT equipment. By tracking IT assets, optimising product lifecycles and re-certifying older assets, HPE has carved out a strategic approach that makes financial and operational sense for customers.

Its GreenLake consumption model is a key part of this strategy. In this hybrid model, HPE operates the hardware, but the customer benefits from all the security and control of what is basically an on-premises set-up. Because HPE is in control of the underlying infrastructure, it can, they argue, do a better job of optimising it than the client.

Big tech takes the strain

This “as-a-service” management of IT assets is helping to drive sustainability alongside operational and cost efficiencies. It can also be done in a way which does not necessarily eat into HPE’s profits from new hardware. That’s because older kit can still be used by customers but for different functions, such as back-up and recovery. Some organisations may not even be able to afford new hardware, so re-certified kit in this context can provide a new revenue stream.

It’s not just HPE that is driving the IT sustainability message. CONTEXT recently participated in a Pure Storage event in Austin, Texas to find out more on the firm’s Evergreen offering. Similar to GreenLake, it’s an on-premise proposition in which the service provider, in this case Pure Storage, manages the infrastructure to make continuous improvements, optimisations and cost savings.

A new era

With 30 billion dollars unused IT assets worldwide, this new focus on sustainable management through as-a-service models is long overdue. It makes complete sense to leave the management of these assets to the large tech companies, who have both a vested interest and the technical knowhow and resources to avoid waste. The same can be said in general of the move towards the cloud — centralising computers and processing power under the supervision of professionals focused on optimising those assets.

There’s still a long way to go, especially for manufacturers to ensure that all materials used in their products are completely recyclable. But we are heading in the right direction. HPE told us that the aim is for 75% of retired IT equipment to go back "into the circle" when a client takes on HPE financing and IT asset management services. At last the arguments are being made for sustainability as a real business driver and not a drag on growth.


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