Between environmentally-driven consumers and prohibitive data cost increases, storage infrastructure leaders who don’t prioritize data sustainability risk more than their reputation.
Data centers are facing escalating power & supply costs PLUS increasing environmental and regulatory constraints. Yet enterprise data storage and consumption keeps growing. So what happens next?
Data centers and cloud providers are already doing everything they can to optimize efficiency and reduce waste. They need to in order to keep up with demand that is at risk of eventually exceeding supply.
That means it’s up to enterprise infrastructure providers and teams to do more at the ground level.
Seventy-five percent of organizations will have implemented a data center infrastructure sustainability program driven by cost optimization and stakeholder pressures by 2027, up from less than 5% in 2022.Gartner
Going forward, failing to prioritize data efficiency can contribute to budget shortfalls and even revenue losses.
Consumers Want Proof of Data Sustainability
If you follow our monthly Infrastructure Round-Up, you saw some interesting data recently about consumer attitudes towards data and sustainability.
According to a March 2023 report, nearly half of consumers would stop buying from companies that don’t “control how much unnecessary or unwanted data it is storing.”
This environmentally conscious shift in consumer sentiment may or may not be demonstrated in actual consumer behavior just yet, but you can expect it will be soon – just look at the rapid changes overtaking automobile and electric vehicle markets (driven not just by regulations but also buyer behavior).
Other noteworthy findings show:
- “46% of consumers are concerned that 2% of global energy-related pollution emissions are caused by datacenters, the same amount created by the airline industry.”
- “51% said they are especially concerned that data storage produces pollution when, on average, half of the data enterprises store is redundant, obsolete or trivial.”
It might be easy to write off these findings by thinking “how will consumers actually measure this stuff?”
But as investors also demand more environmental accountability and enterprises continue hiring sustainability executives, information about data efficiency will undoubtedly become more transparent – putting CIOs and their teams on notice.
IT Leaders Need to Achieve More with Slimmer Margins
You might acknowledge the value of some sustainability initiatives but don’t view them as a high priority in your line of work. At least, not with the pressing day-to-day urgencies infrastucture teams face.
But let’s consider a different (seemingly unrelated) problem: slimmer budget margins and thicker to-do lists.
“I’m expected to do 10% more with 10% less, every year…forever.”One IT Director that we work with
There’s no question that infrastructure needs are expanding and getting more expensive, no matter where your data is stored.
The Wall Street Journal recently wrote that CIOs are so afflicted by skyrocketing cloud costs that they think it’s cheaper to pay entire teams to manage cloud costs than to accept the status quo. The article goes on to note that one yearly survey showed cloud spending surpassing cybersecurity as the biggest cloud challenge for enterprises – the first time in over ten years that cybersecurity was not the top challenge.
Meanwhile, 2022 research from the UpTime Institute shows data center costs are expected to jump up across multiple categories in 2023, from construction costs to hardware and staffing expenses.
And with enterprise data growing exponentially at unheard-of rates, relying on storage hardware remains as expensive as ever.
Whether you’re mostly in the cloud or on-prem (or both), minimizing costs and gaining maximum value is an enormous challenge.
It’s a challenge that demands new efforts to squeeze more value out of your existing assets – which is exactly what data sustainability is all about.
Why Asset Optimization is Key
Making asset optimization a top priority kills two birds with one stone: getting more ROI out of your data storage and showing the corporate responsibility consumers are looking for.
Asset optimization is simply any effort to get more value from your storage assets – everything from hardware to cloud SLAs to consumption-based storage as-a-service (STaaS) and beyond.
After all, you can’t control how much assets cost, but you can (theoretically) control how efficiently you use those assets.
Use them inefficiently, and you can easily overpay on cloud and STaaS contracts by huge margins – or purchase expensive hardware long before you truly needed it (like this company almost did).
There are lots of ways to improve asset optimization, but few of them are possible without clear observability into your multi-platform infrastructure. That’s why we invest so much to make sure Visual One Intelligence can display multi-vendor cloud, compute, on-prem, and edge environments all together on a unified display.
From there, it’s a matter of finding missed risks and opportunities:
- Data unecessarily stored in expensive cloud resources that could be archived or re-tiered (file analysis helps with this).
- Cloud resources that are suddenly outgrowing their budget (our cloud heat maps help with this).
- VMs and clusters that are inefficiently provisioned (our proprietary capacity scores and right-sizing recommendations help with this).
- Unused free space hidden by pool / volume fragmentation, unused allocations, and more.
- Workloads that would cost less if moved to or from the cloud (our workload cost comparison tool helps with this).
- Forecast the impact of future workload changes (our responsive forecasting and capacity planning helps with this).
- Devices at risk of exceeding capacity (our virtual assistant helps with this)
No matter how you do it, don’t ignore the role that data sustainability needs to play in your infrastructure strategy. It’s good for your budget, good for the environment, and ultimately necessary for succesful data management in 2023 and beyond.