Presented by Pure Storage

As the world works toward net-zero carbon goals, building products that are oriented toward minimizing their environmental impact from the outset can go a long way to delivering on both environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals and business impact.

According to Deloitte, the right action on climate could add $3 trillion to the U.S. economy by 2070, as opposed to delivering a $14.5 trillion hit if left unchecked. The World Economic Forum, meanwhile, notes strong sentiment on the part of corporate leaders who believe that taking proactive steps to reduce carbon impact is both a responsibility and a source of competitive advantage — delivering cost savings, meeting customer needs, and aiding in attracting talent.

With data and data insights playing a critical role in the development of products and services across industries, at Pure Storage, we’ve had a firsthand view of the explosion of data and its impact on data infrastructure resource consumption. Data centers account for around 1% of global electricity consumption, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), yet energy efficiency has helped limit that growth despite the surge in demand for data services.

With no end in sight to the growth — and importance — of data and the insights data delivers, data centers play an undeniably important part in any corporate sustainability strategy. And mitigating the environmental impact of data infrastructure is critical as data workloads increase. Building a sustainable model for the future now requires data storage that is engineered to require significantly lower power, lower cooling, and far less waste, as well as having the potential to make a significant and immediate impact on reducing global data-center carbon emissions.

Pure has invested in building sustainable and highly efficient products and services since our founding. To quantify these impacts, we recently engaged an outside environmental assessment firm to conduct a product life cycle assessment (LCA) of our all-flash storage array products, which found that Pure customers can achieve up to 80% reduction in direct carbon usage by data systems compared to competitive products.

And we recently issued our inaugural ESG report, gaining insights along the way that we believe can help enterprises decrease their carbon footprint while advancing digital transformation. Following are four actions for enterprises considering their own environmental impact:

1. Conduct a materiality assessment to pinpoint priorities

A materiality assessment is a formal exercise to engage stakeholders and find out how important specific ESG issues are to them. They can help identify key priority areas intersecting stakeholder engagement and business success. And they are gaining traction, according to the Conference Board, with most companies undertaking them either at the start or as part of a review of their sustainability strategy. While a commitment to creating great outcomes for all stakeholders drives our day-to-day, our own assessment will enable us to focus our efforts where we will be most impactful.

2. Engineer for a smaller footprint

Corporate data centers are often still optimized for reliability, performance, or cost, and less for efficiency. Old magnetic disk technologies delivered capacity yet sacrificed inefficient power usage and e-waste. Solid-state media can enable organizations to design and operate less resource-intensive data centers and can help shrink footprints dramatically. At Pure, we believe that our tightly integrated software and hardware allows us to deliver market-leading density, longevity, and efficiency, and help improve and drive further efficiencies over time. Our Evergreen architecture and philosophy of continuously and non-disruptively upgrading both the hardware and software components of customers’ systems spare our customers from unnecessary and costly product replacements and the associated energy and e-waste.

3. Develop an as-a-service approach to aid sustainability

True “as-a-Service” solutions are about buying an outcome (i.e. Service Level Agreement) and having a third party deliver it. You should be able to start small, grow over time, and have transparency over pricing and related KPIs, including sustainability. In storage, that requires architecture that enables technology improvements without costly and disruptive rip-and-replace projects, is capable of flexing up and down as you need, and only deploys equipment as required. For example, with our Pure-as-a-Service subscription, we are able to remove the energy and waste typically associated with under-utilized or over-provisioned systems

4. Optimize the supply chain

End-to-end supply chain optimization includes moving to recyclable packaging and eliminating packaging waste, choosing a sustainable supplier network, and adopting quality-driven manufacturing processes. It requires continuous improvement and optimization, and also includes things like consolidating documents. A supply chain designed to be responsive and diverse can help facilitate rapid growth and handle surges in demand. At Pure, our best practice is working with suppliers globally to build a supply chain that can respond to physical challenges while ensuring ethical treatment of workers and environmentally sound practices.

ESG reporting and the work that goes into it are important tools that can be utilized to evaluate performance and identify future opportunities for improvement. When it comes to sustainability, the data center is a worthy place to start.

Rob Lee is the Chief Technology Officer at Pure Storage, where he is focused on global technology strategy, and identifying new innovation and market expansion opportunities for the company. He joined Pure in 2013 after 12 years at Oracle Corp. He serves on the board of directors for Bay Area Underwater Explorers and Cordell Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Lee earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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