Building sustainability at the edge of the enterprise

BrandPost By Tiny Haynes
Oct 04, 20233 mins
Edge Computing

From smart buildings to smart grids, the opportunities to reduce your carbon footprint with edge computing are simply amazing.

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Credit: iStock

The enterprise edge has become a growing area of innovation as organizations increasingly understand that not every workload — particularly new edge workloads — can move to the cloud. Reasons for this limitation include data sovereignty and residency requirements, the need to support ultra-low latency workloads, and concerns about losing control over mission-critical use cases, such as production assembly lines or retail point-of-sale systems. At the same time, the proliferation of smart devices, sensors, and endpoints and the massive data flows they produce have increased demand for and interest in edge computing. 

According to SP&G research estimates, the data demands for low-latency workloads across eight key industries will grow from 5,700 petabytes in 2021 to 194,000 petabytes through 2027 — an increase of more than 30 times. Just 38% of that data will be processed in cloud or core locations, with the remainder headed to a variety of on-premises and nearby as-a-service edge venues. Generating business value from this data will require significant growth in edge computing deployments.

At the same time, the importance of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies has become a boardroom topic, with sustainability concerns leading the way in many geographies. In the European Union, for instance, legislative efforts to reduce carbon emissions by 50% before 2030 are in an advanced stage. 

Which begs the question: What is the impact of increasingly distributed IT infrastructure approaches on enterprise sustainability goals — specifically on greenhouse gas emissions metrics? 

At first glance, more distributed edge computing architectures will cause a replication of infrastructure in edge environments that benefit from economies of scale in the same way as the cloud. This presents a critical sustainability challenge. To address this, organizations must consider two key aspects that reduce the complexity of achieving sustainability at the edge. We refer to them as “deploy the edge” and “run the edge.”

The decision to analyze data in a location that’s far removed from where it’s generated must take into account the cost of transporting data to the remote location, as well as capacity considerations for both the transport network and the data center or cloud that will process the data. Balancing all this against the cost of deploying edge computing — the direct financial costs, the staffing expenses, and the related sustainability impacts — will enable organizations to estimate which data they should process in cloud workloads and which it should handle at the edge.

Further, having the ability to process data at the edge can generate net-new capabilities that may offer significant sustainability advantages. From smart buildings that use less power and water, while keeping occupants more comfortable and safer, to smart power grids that enable more efficient and sustainable generation, transmission, and consumption of power, to manufacturing processes that use less power and create less waste, the opportunities for organizations to leverage edge computing to reduce carbon footprint could drive significant results. 

Interested in learning more? Read the complete study compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence in conjunction with Dell Technologies and Intel to dig deeper into these areas. 

For more on how Dell Technologies is embedding sustainability into our products, visit our IT sustainability resource page

To find out about Intel’s commitment to a sustainable future, visit