The Positive Impact of Software, Reducing Carbon Footprints and Maximizing Efficiencies
By Nicola Peill-Moelter, Director, Sustainability Innovation

As the digital transformation of businesses accelerates and VMware’s portfolio of technologies expands to encompass Kubernetes, IoT, blockchain and cybersecurity, we can lose sight of the enormous Tech for Good impact VMware virtualization has had on slowing the growth of IT infrastructure across the globe. Before widespread adoption of virtualization, in a world where every application required its own physical server, IT and data center infrastructure was on an unsustainable, exponential-growth trajectory. There were dire warnings that data center energy consumption could outstrip supply and that associated carbon emissions would far surpass that of the airline industry. But this trajectory has since flattened due in part to the significant IT utilization efficiencies realized through virtualization

For the past three years, IDC has quantified the Tech for Good impact of customer adoption of VMware’s virtualization solutions. From early on, compute virtualization realized efficiencies, significantly increasing the utilization of physical servers by enabling multiple applications to run on one server. Before ESX, utilization rates were appallingly low, typically below 15 percent. Storage and networking virtualization, the full software-defined-data center, also have similar infrastructure footprint-reducing benefits. vSAN enables incremental, modular deployment of storage capacity, replaces hard disk drives with more power efficient solid-state drives and fiber channel host bus adapters and switch ports with more power-efficient Ethernet network interface cards and ports. And, NSX obviates the need for separate physical appliances such as firewalling and load balancing/application delivery controller functionality.

In IDC’s latest publication, Exploring the Impact of Infrastructure Virtualization on Digital Transformation Strategies and Carbon Emissions, it estimates that, in 2018, customer use of VMware’s virtualization solutions helped avoid approximately 145 million metric tons of CO2 emissions through optimization of IT infrastructure (91 M metric tons) and associated reduced data center emissions (54 M metric tons). This avoidance is equivalent to annual emissions of 31.5 million cars. Since 2003, IDC estimates that our solutions have negated the deployment of 123 million physical servers, saving 2.2 trillion kWh and avoiding 1.1 billion metric tons of CO2.

As the world experiences the accelerating impacts of climate change, the message of IT efficiency and optimization is resonating. Companies around the globe and across industries are committing to strong carbon and energy reduction and renewable energy goals. Almost 700 companies to-date, including VMware, have committed to science based targets for reducing absolute carbon emissions in internal operations and supply chains. These companies are looking for solutions that can help them achieve these aggressive targets. VMware’s solutions can help connect the dots between corporate IT operations and sustainability goals, which is good for business and good for our planet. Learn more about our efforts in our Global Impact Report