Sustainable IT

Sustainable IT

In recent years, everyone got familiar with the concept of sustainability, it has become so much a part of our everyday lives. But while, for example, sustainability efforts are visible in traditional production plants or transportation (the spread of electric cars, the phasing out of polluting technologies, the switch to renewable energy sources, etc.), this aspect is hardly present in the field of IT. The proliferation of increasingly powerful hardware has also made software developers more comfortable, as the amount of memory available is less and less of an obstacle to run most of the programs. It is no wonder that a lot of software and application can now be classified as bloatware. But an even more drastic example is the rise of cryptocurrencies, which has shown the masses how energy-intensive and polluting this industry can be.

The above cases also show that a sustainability approach is essential in the design of IT systems. We therefore believe it is necessary to devote a few words to this subject.

Video conference
Video conference

What does sustainable IT mean?

Sustainable IT, since it is not a deeply ingrained term, does not yet have a common definition. It refers primarily to the need to design, build and operate IT systems in a way that minimises environmental impacts. In addition, of course, sustainable IT systems must also be economically viable, i.e. they must perform the necessary functions. Broadly speaking, social responsibility and data protection are among the aspects that are essential for a well-functioning sustainable IT system.

The creation of sustainable IT systems requires cross-sectoral cooperation from the acquisition of assets, through their use, to their disposal. This requires the creation of additional coordination tasks and roles, especially in larger companies.

What should be considered when designing sustainable IT systems?

Energy efficiency
This is the first and most important aspect. The principle is simple: use equipment that consumes less energy for a given power output (and therefore costs less to operate). A good cost-benefit analysis is therefore an essential accompaniment to such an investment.
Green coding
'Green coding' means that sustainability and energy efficiency considerations are already present from the beginning of software development. This can include optimising test cycles or applying the LEAN software development methodology.
Sustainable procurement
Selecting IT products and services from the right suppliers that prioritise sustainability in their manufacturing processes and supply chain. The procurement of refurbished IT equipment is a prime example.
Resource management
An aspect closely related to the first point. Optimising the use of resources can increase the lifetime of IT assets and reduce costs for the business. In practice, for example, the periodic operation of servers contributes significantly to reducing energy consumption.
Electronic waste management
At the end of an IT asset's life, it is critical to dispose of it properly and reuse as many components as possible to minimise environmental impact and health risks. This requires the selection of appropriate waste management partners and the implementation of waste management policies.
Carbon footprint reduction
This means the monitoring and minimization of carbon emissions associated with IT operations. This can best be achieved by encouraging remote working, thus requiring less office infrastructure and reducing emissions associated with commuting. But it is now also possible to choose hosting providers that can guarantee to power their server farms with renewable energy.
Social responsibility
Seems less relevant, but also important, is the social impact of IT investment (whether it directly or indirectly violates human rights or diverts important resources from less developed societies). In addition, education, awareness raising and sustainability mindset among employees are also necessary aspects. The social responsibility scheme is typically developed in line with the company's CSR model.
Data protection
Also loosely related to sustainable IT, but still an essential factor. In addition to the sustainability aspects of an IT system, it must also meet data security requirements, as a successful cyber-attack on an unprotected system can easily undermine our efforts.

Where does Alias Innovations come into the picture?

At Alias Innovations, sustainability is fundamental (we want our planet to remain liveable for as long as possible), so we consciously design our business processes, develop our products and invest in new tools to maximally comply with this requirement.

Of all the areas listed above, the best way we can do the most for the environment is by adhering to the rules of 'green coding'. To this end, the software we write is designed with efficient and optimised code lines (for example, by eliminating code redundancy), which reduces the computing resources required. And thanks to the agile development methodology used, the energy consumption of new releases and testing phases is also reduced.

We take the run-time energy consumption as a criterion in the design and development phases of software. This includes the way data is processed, stored and transmitted, for example optimising the frequency of data transfers or optimising data storage methods.

No matter how streamlined a piece of software is, it still needs electricity to run. But that shouldn't be a conscience, either, as many web hosting companies specialize in ensuring that the energy used to run and save their data comes from renewable sources. That's why, in addition to development services, we can also offer our clients reliable green hosting providers.

In addition to the software we develop for our partners, we also monitor our own activities. Therefore, from a resource management perspective, we monitor the energy consumption of our own activities and determine the required availability of the tools on this basis. For example, we only need to run certain servers intermittently to ensure that our work can be carried out smoothly.

Also in this respect, sustainable procurement and the fate of hardware after scrapping is an essential element. Therefore, at Alias Innovations, our employees use refurbished laptops for their daily work to reduce the environmental impact of our company. And the fate of the IT equipment we dispose of is governed by our scrapping protocol, which requires equipment to be handed over to a partner who will safely dispose of it, ensuring maximum recycling of components.

Back to software development, data security is a key issue in protecting our own work, so we have introduced specific password criteria and two-factor authentication for critical processes. And for the software we develop, we also ensure two-factor authentication, proper user management and protection against cyberattacks (phishing attacks, overload attack protection).

If it is important to you that your IT challenge is not only met with an effective but also with a sustainable solution, contact us!