IT Modernization With a Sustainability Edge

BrandPost By Beth Stackpole
Oct 12, 2022
Green IT

When designing an application modernization roadmap, add the green IT dimension to reduce carbon emissions and energy costs.


As companies fast-track IT modernization to accelerate digital transformation and gain business advantage, there is an opportunity to rearchitect a greener IT environment and application portfolio that will drive cost efficiencies and contribute to broader corporate sustainability goals.

Across industries, companies are modernizing IT infrastructure and wielding digital tools to increase organizational flexibility, agility, and resiliency in their efforts to stay abreast of the competition. Through cloud migration and application modernization, companies are creating new customer experiences and services to drive revenue growth while reimaging business processes to optimize operations, reduce costs, and empower new ways of working. IDC data shows that 71% of organizations view application modernization as a top priority today, surging to 84% over the next three years.

Moreover, many are moving beyond application modernization as a one-time initiative and making it a continuous part of their on-going IT operations.

As businesses move forward on their modernization journey, it’s important to factor green IT considerations into the roadmap given the impact choices can have on overall enterprise sustainability goals. “As businesses and enterprises expand horizontally or vertically, they add to their IT estate whether that is through cloud or private data centers,” notes Nalini Manuru, Business Development Manager at IBM. “As the backbone for expansion, IT has a huge impact on energy consumption so it’s critical to take notice and make IT more carbon efficient for the good of the planet, to meet current and future regulatory requirements, and for cost benefits as well.”

In fact, self-owned data centers and IT equipment are a major source of energy usage and carbon emissions for enterprises. According to the International Energy Agency, worldwide data centers collectively consume 200 to 250 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity, accounting for 1% of all global electricity demand and about 0.3% of all global carbon emissions.

In comparison, a modernization strategy that shifts workloads from on-premises data centers to cloud can reduce energy consumption and associated carbon emissions by nearly 80% and is up to five times more efficient than the typical on-premises data center, a 451 Research/AWS report found. Part of the reason is enterprises tend to run underutilized or idle servers—the Uptime Institute estimates that roughly 20% of enterprise servers are completed unused or abandoned due to insufficient infrastructure monitoring and the lack of a rigorous decommissioning process. There are also opportunities to improve application code and architecture post a lift-and-shift migration to public hyperscaler platforms like AWS.

AWS cloud infrastructure, in particular, has significant energy efficiency advantages. An AWS/451 Research report shows that AWS public cloud infrastructure is 3.6 times more energy efficient than the average U.S. enterprise data center, primarily due to more energy efficient servers and higher server utilization, more efficient data center facilities and cooling, and reduced electricity consumption and renewable energy usage.

“Reducing IT operations costs and carbon reduction is a complex factor today and it shouldn’t be a separate exercise from IT modernization,” says Diptiman Dasgupta, associate partner & executive IT architect – Sustainability, for IBM Consulting. “It’s more effective to make carbon reduction goals and green IT a non-functional design dimension similar to security or reliability.”

A Framework for Success

At the core of the IBM/AWS partnership is a blueprint for sustainable application modernization and a full lifecycle approach to carbon accounting. Central to the partners’ strategy are the following capabilities:

Carbon Accounting & Assessment: The AWS Customer Carbon Footprint Tool provides easy-to-understand data visualizations and reporting on emissions from AWS usage, providing enterprises with a baseline accounting of their greenhouse gas emissions. The tool identifies carbon hotspots and analyzes changes in emissions over time as workloads are migrated and applications are rearchitected. It can also help plan for the future by forecasting how emissions will change as AWS moves forward with its mission to power operations through 100% renewable energy sources.

Green IT Transformation: IBM experts work with organizations to determine the best modernization opportunities while creating a roadmap and target application architecture that will deliver sustainability benefits throughout the entire lifecycle. More than just a “rip and replace” approach, IBM’s application modernization strategy starts with garnering a solid understanding of business needs and the existing application landscape.

IBM experts employ both manual and automated tools to rationalize existing systems to get a detailed understanding of the landscape and operations, including the precise number and function of apps as well as interdependencies. Enterprises are guided through the process of selecting the most opportune business outcomes, creating an implementation roadmap, designing a target architecture, identifying and measuring sustainability targets and outcomes, and aligning employee skillsets and business operating models to meet the new requirements.

Green IT operations: Using tools like the AWS Customer Carbon Footprint Tool, IBM and AWS deliver continuous monitoring and measurement of sustainability KPIs, ensuring organizations have complete visibility into their progress. In addition, the partners deliver on-going “what-if” analysis to monitor the potential carbon and cost savings of application optimization options, ensuring sustainability becomes an on-going benchmark for the success of IT operations.

The AWS cloud platform itself presents inherent sustainability advantages for IT and application modernization. Sustainability is one of six pillars of the AWS Well-Architected Framework, meaning there are core design principles, operational guidance, best practices, and improvement plans offered up to help organizations meet sustainability targets for their AWS workloads. AWS also delivers a broad set of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT), and data analytics capabilities to help organizations achieve their sustainability goals.

“Modernizing applications on AWS compounds the benefits of sustainability because AWS is inherently a sustainable platform,” Manuru says.

For more information on the IBM/AWS modernization and sustainability partnership, visit