Data storage technology can have adverse effects on the environment. Organizations must choose efficient storage strategies to help reduce the significant impact of this environmental issue.


While many IT professionals go about their day-to-day jobs, they may not consider the environmental impact of data storage that their systems, technology and workflows create.
Whether on-premises or in the cloud, data storage can use up a large amount of energy. But there are ways to consider the environment when choosing storage strategies, hardware and vendors while optimizing IT workflow.


Storage hardware and its maintenance consume large amounts of energy

Organizations’ data storage are located in data centers that require electricity to run multiple devices and associated storage management systems. Cooling systems are another impact to consider in maintaining the overall ambient temperature without harming the equipment. Data centers also consume a lot of electricity to run servers, switches, lighting, HVAC equipment, air handling equipment, emergency lighting, and physical security systems.


Unused data center floor space still consumes power as it also requires cooling. Although data centers themselves do not generate greenhouse gases or other pollutants, power suppliers used to heat or cool them often send pollutants into the atmosphere. Depending on the country, some sources of energy are more harmful (charcoal, oil, gas or nuclear) than some others (hydro, solar or wind).


Consider cloud providers based their commitment to green storage

For several years, we have noticed the rising popularity of cloud storage providers as an additional source of IT infrastructure for organizations of different sizes. They typically have geographically dispersed data centers to handle customer storage requirements. Even though cloud providers are practical and economical, their data centers are still consuming a lot of energy. These factors generally outweigh environmental considerations.

Cloud storage involves several steps before the data arrives at its storage location. The data is first sent to the cloud provider, who then routes the data to one or more data centers for storage. Sending data to the provider requires energy to power routers and switches, or energy to access the Internet. Power is then needed in one or more data centers, which often covers acres of land. Even more power is then required to get the data to its storage location.

Cloud storage is convenient because it does not require physical space in an organization. It is flexible and scalable to meet varying user needs and provides significant business continuity and technology disaster recovery benefits. But cloud storage is a non-negligible source of energy consumption.

In comparison, a corporate data center will transmit data locally, for example via a NAS, to another storage device in the same building. No Internet access is needed, and multiple data centers are not in the mix. A single enterprise data center capable of storing data — compared to dozens or hundreds of cloud provider data centers — has less of an effect on the environment.


Strategies to make data storage more environmentally friendly

1. Adding local data storage equipment

Adding servers, storage devices and storage applications to a corporate data center may be a part of an organization’s overall data storage strategy. While this approach may use more electricity, and the HVAC system may need to work harder, the overall use of power — which additionally harms the environment — will be minimal.

2. Doing research about your cloud storage provider

If a storage strategy includes a cloud storage vendor, IT management should review environmental studies on the vendor. Management should also ask what the cloud storage vendor is doing to reduce its impact on the environment.

3. Using renewable sources of energy

Solar, wind or hydropower, should be used whenever possible. This is important whether you are a single corporate data center or using a cloud vendor with dozens of data centers.  Every company can make a difference. Eliminate unused dark data. But keep data that you may need for business, compliance or political reasons even if it has gone unused for some time.

4. Rethink your workflows to include added value software

Organizations can also use deduplication software, such as DataIntell, to eliminate duplicate copies of files, databases and other items.


DataIntell as a tool to helps organizations with their environmental strategies

Solutions like DataIntell can be a real game changer for most organizations wanting to reduce their ecological footprint.

With its single pane of glass, their solutions will give you insights about your storage landscape on-premises, cloud and archives.

It will simplify organizations when they are searching for duplicate files, cold data and folder locations which may be saved on many different types of storage.

With DataIntell’s various functionalities, companies will be able to maximize storage space by archiving, deleting duplicate data or having a better view of the cost of their infrastructure.

In a situation where some of your data is stored in a data center with a higher energy footprint, your ultimate goal might be to migrate that data to a greener type of storage. To limit the energy impact of the migration, a strategy will have to be put in place to avoid transferring useless data or transferring data that has a duplicate elsewhere in another data center. With the help of DataIntell, it is very easy to isolate and make an inventory of the right data to migrate.


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