Dr. Guy Mcpherson has said, “If you really think the economy is more important than the environment, try holding your breath while you count your money.”
We as humans believe that destroying nature to build cities is progress, but it is the opposite. Construction and increasing traffic are not the only causes of depleting resources, climate change, and deforestation; technology also plays a role.
Did you know, 60% of the greenhouse gases originate from servers, networks, and storage components? These are the findings of German Bitkom in a meta-study published from 2012 to 2019.
And this is just the beginning. The massive evolution and dependence on technology will increase by every hour. Therefore, it is high time that even the IT people turn to sustainable solutions. Yes, this word may sound overused these days, but it is the need of the hour. Basically, we are at that portion of time when every little action counts!
So, what are the things that you can do to incorporate sustainability in your software architecture? Let us discuss this.
Sustainability in Software Architecture
There are multiple ways in which sustainability can be a part of the digital ecosystem. The basic idea remains the same: reducing and controlling resource consumption.
Let us start with a simple example. Everyone uses a laptop. How many of us shut it down when it is not in use? Many of us put it to sleep rather than shutting it down. Now not only does this increase electricity consumption, but it also reduces the laptop’s battery life.
Now we know this is a childish example in the world of technology. But it was just for you to get a gist of what we are talking about. Even Chlorofluorocarbons were banned based on a hypothetical computer modelling research. But Mario Molina proved that the entire ozone layer could deplete if CFCs were not banned immediately.
Thus, when it comes to the environment, every small deed adds up to the big picture. And when it comes to the digital ecosystem, it needs to be measured. Therefore, you should have metrics that track your sustainability action plan because sustainability is and should be an integral part of the long-term plan. Whether it is reducing cloud space or hardware improvements, sustainability should be a part of your work culture.
1. Data Usage and Storage
Reduce data usage and storage to a minimum. It would help if you had metrics that tell which data must be stored, which can be removed and the duplicates that can be riffed off. Implement a data classification policy by defining which data to store and why. Additionally, reduce unnecessary data transfers across networks. Use geotags to limit the sharing of required data. Introduce different storage patterns and location-aware data usage and storage processes.
For example, in an EHS system, the contractor management portal can be accessed by the system on the location rather than shared across boundaries.
2. Incorporate the “Switch-Off” Culture
Encourage your employees to shut down the systems and machines not required to run aimlessly after work. Also, try to merge tasks in one device and let it do the jobs instead of having multiple systems. This can reduce electricity consumption and reduce carbon emissions significantly.
For example, integrate software that tracks the running and usage time of the system. Any system that has been on but not used significantly must be alerted to be shut down.
3. Scrutinize Utilization and Scaling
This can be tricky as different systems have different architectural designs. But when you incorporate new technology in the system, ensure the components are actually useful rather than implementing the entire bulky software. This is where tailor-made software comes into use. Also, try to use minimum viable representative environments to develop and test the applications. Ask your IT team to design a complete automation process that maximizes the utility of applications and reduces the use of other resources.
For example, go for a tailor-made EHS system. This way, all safety needs can be customized according to your organization, providing scalability and flexibility.
4. Use No Code or Low Code Development
No-code or low-code applications are the future. Minimal requirements of the coding process will save not only time but also an incredible amount of energy. Utilizing low code developments implies low maintenance and fewer review times. It also saves resources in maintaining legacy software and effective risk management.
For example, if you have been using a particular language for coding for a long time. Try to switch to a low code one, as no language is efficient as the updated one.
5. Manage Hardware and Software Operations
Switching to IT-managed services for staffing and servers can prove a massive asset for sustainability. The experts know how to scale and provide flexible options for cloud-based operations. It also reduces the burden of your in-house IT staff to run and maintain on-site infrastructure and applications.
These third-party solutions shut down your resources when you do not need them. The experts can also track your carbon emissions and electrical consumption. Thus, these energy-related stats help you build a better future for the organization, and the entire human race.
For example, emphasize using mobile applications so that the need to take a laptop reduces. If a near miss is reported, click an image through the mobile device and instantly alert employees rather than carrying a laptop for the same.
Every Act Counts
How can switching to a no-code application or shutting down a few systems help you build a sustainable culture? Think again!
To keep global warming to no more than 1.5°C, emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.
Therefore every little savings does count. Honestly, just shutting down systems will not solve the problem but they will surely take us one step closer to achieving our goal of sustainability.
It is your job to incorporate green IT practices. It starts with making your software smarter, measuring and monitoring the performances, and rearchitecting it wherever required. Sustainable software solutions improve quality of life and also create new market opportunities.
So let us pledge together that we will intensely work towards a sustainable future while keeping in mind the words of Chief Seattle, “Remember that man belongs to the earth. The earth does not belong to man.”