Use Tech to Enhance Sustainability

Agnes Heftberger, General Manager & Technology Leader, IBM ASEANZK

Sustainability has become a hot topic, not only for government policymakers but for corporate leaders as well. In the coming years, sustainability issues will play a huge role in defining corporate agendas and could recalibrate the relationship between business and society. These developments are welcome, and corporate leadership is needed now more than ever.

However, the walk has not always followed the talk. Only 37 per cent of companies have aligned sustainability objectives with their business strategies, only 33 per cent have integrated sustainability objectives and metrics into business processes, and only 40 per cent have identified initiatives to close their sustainability gaps for change.

These statistics come from a recent IBM IBV (Institute for Business Value) and Oxford Economics study which polled 1,958 executives in 32 countries to map their sustainability readiness. “Lots of talk is happening, but not enough action,” the study reported. “While 86 per cent of companies have a sustainability strategy, only 35 per cent have taken action on that strategy.”

Fewer than 50 per cent of the business leaders surveyed said they were willing to change existing business practices at the expense of profits to improve sustainability. And only 27 per cent viewed sustainability as a core element of their business value.

“These findings highlight the immense sustainability challenge companies face in converting their intentions and pledges into reality,” the IBV report stated. “Achieving change at scale requires a fundamental reconfiguration of how value is created. And businesses need to lead—rather than follow.”

Singapore Green Plan

One country seems to have taken an impressive lead. The Singapore Green Plan 2030, which was released by five ministries on Feb 10, 2021, will help chart Singapore’s journey towards a more sustainable future. The wide-ranging plan cuts across all sectors, including infrastructure, research, innovation, and training.

Singapore will set aside 50 per cent more land—around 200 hectares—for nature parks. “Every household will live within a 10-minute walk of a park,” the plan promises. “By planting one million more trees across the island, which will absorb another 78,000 tonnes of CO2, we will enjoy cleaner air and cooler shade.” 

The bonus: With more green spaces, there will be more wildlife—migratory birds, hornbills, mouse deer and otters. “But some animals may get into conflict with people too,” the government notes. “We will work with communities and NGOs to develop programmes to allow humans and wildlife to live in harmony. By 2030, Singapore will be a green and beautiful City in Nature.”

Technology has an important part to play in helping government agencies and businesses meet sustainability goals. Currently, the ICT sector is responsible for between 1.8 and 3.9 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions; DCs (data centres) account for 3 per cent of annual total energy consumption. Any advances in DC tech will mean huge benefits.

That’s where a unique server from IBM, with green computing at its core, comes in. Called LinuxONE, it reduces energy consumption by a whopping 75 per cent, the CO2 footprint by 850 metric tonnes annually and requires 50 per cent less DC space compared to similar industry-grade servers.

It also features quantum-safe security algorithms and meets security requirements for sensitive workloads, including those in regulated industries such as financial services. The LinuxONE Emperor 4 server protects data-in-use while providing end-to-end encryption for data-at-rest and data-in-flight. This provides businesses with a solid data and cybersecurity strategy.

Remarkable Results

Are there any early adopters? Here are a few who have achieved remarkable results with the LinuxONE:

  • Citi focuses on reducing the environmental footprint of its facilities by improving hosting densities with lower power consumption. “As our business increasingly becomes digital-first, traditional IT solutions add more physical servers and increase floor space,” said Martin Kennedy, Citi’s Managing Director of Tech Infrastructure. “LinuxONE with MongoDB provides vertical scale and critical protection against data breaches and cyberattacks, helping optimise DCs while lowering our overall carbon footprint.”
  • Deloitte is using LinuxONE to help clients optimise their DCs and could realise up to US$40 million in human capital and licensing savings over three years. “Thanks to the LinuxONE platform, we can help our clients access a whole new world of possibility,” said Ted Schieke, Deloitte’s Vice President of Alliance Management. “Clients can free up more resources that they can invest in new solutions and services.”
  • British Met Office migrated its databases from x86 systems to the LinuxONE platform to ensure it could handle massive peaks. “We can bet the business on LinuxONE now,” said Graham Mallin, Met’s Executive Head of Technology. “I can sleep easy knowing that we can absolutely rely on our data delivery systems.”
  • A large Islamic bank in Malaysia wants to promote the habit of savings and investments among Malaysians. They deployed LinuxONE to deliver the best savings and banking experience to their clients.

The bottom line: Today’s hybrid and multi-cloud environments require clients to deploy workloads where it makes the most sense for their business needs. IBM’s Cloud Hyper Protect Virtual Servers provide a public cloud environment in which the cloud tenant retains complete authority over virtual servers for workloads that contain sensitive data. Built on the LinuxONE and running on the IBM Cloud, this service provides customers authority over their data, workloads, and encryption keys with privacy and cybersecurity.