As so many of us work from home these days, there is talk of the environmental impact created by video calls over Teams or Zoom, as well as streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Whether or not working from home will have a positive impact on the environment is a great conversation to have – much like the plastic straw issue raised awareness of the broader scourge of single-use plastic on our society.
At Commvault, we often talk about how a single data event can threaten the bottom line or boost a career. That is the balancing act of the risks and rewards of data. When we think of risks, we typically talk about financial and business risks. On Earth Day, which is Wednesday, let’s talk about environmental risk: the issue of the growing carbon footprint of data.
Before you say it – please forgive this drastic over-simplification. This is an important and complex topic. Since this is a blog and not a whitepaper 😊 – for our purposes we will think of this through the lens of the most basic building blocks:
- Physical infrastructure: Locations, equipment and the total lifecycle of it all.
- Movement of data: From where it is to where you need it.
- Using the data: The compute resources when making use of the data.
Traditional ways to manage your data environment are in a word: unsustainable. On Earth Day we can take the opportunity to think differently. Here are five questions you can ask yourself:
1. Do you need all of the data copies that you’re creating?
You are likely creating a lot of copies of the same data for several purposes. Stored in their own silos, unmanaged and growing – oh, and never getting deleted. The ability to take control of this with a comprehensive solution that employs automated policies will reduce your data footprint significantly
2. Can you repurpose data for other uses without making copies?
Traditional methods of backup and archiving are single use – just like plastic straws – so why not combine backup and archive into one data platform, which allows your data to be repurposed for other uses? Perhaps as a source for machine learning or data governance, to name two examples.
3. Is your data ROTten?
ROT data (redundant, obsolete or trivial) is the worst kind of data. Do you even know where it sits? Discovering ROT data and managing it at scale has become easier than you think – this means intelligently reducing your data storage needs.
4. Are you still duplicating infrastructure for disaster recovery? Get your head into the cloud.
Legacy approaches to disaster recovery (DR) requires you to mirror your production infrastructure. Spending two times used to be the standard. Today, with the right tools and automation you can shift DR to the cloud and realize big financial savings while making your DR more sustainable.
5. Is the cloud greener than you can be?
Cloud VMs are greener. In fact, they can be between 3.75-6 times more efficient than most companies can run on-premises. Microsoft, for example, is working to make all its Azure Cloud data centers fueled 100% by renewable energy by 2025.
As a public software company, we have been working to do our part to reduce our overall carbon footprint through responsible sourcing, use, reuse and recycling. While every little bit of this makes a difference, we recognize that our real impact is in helping thousands of customers globally manage their data more responsibly. As the sponsor of the Global Sustainability Goal 12: responsible consumption and production, we are proud to work with our customers and partners as we all strive to think differently about data.
Chris Powell is Commvault’s Chief Marketing Officer.