Three critical steps to a low carbon network

Drawing on our broad experience of supporting sustainability improvements in the technology environment, our experts recommend following three simple (yet comprehensive) stages to boost your network’s sustainability:

1. Take an honest look at where you are

Good sustainability decisions need good data – so your starting point must be an accurate picture of your total energy consumption and carbon emissions across IT network devices, apps and workloads. This will form a baseline for monitoring and proving your progress.

2. Explore and evaluate potential changes

This is a key part of building a long-term sustainable network strategy, and will probably include different levels of investment – from replacing any end-of-life or old equipment with more energy efficient solutions to scoping out a full network redesign. Your exploration should also consider the impacts of network change on other priorities such as security, regulation, compliance and the commercial and functional requirements of your organisation.

3. Build ongoing visibility into your operational environment

The results of refreshing a network to boost sustainability will probably look different for each organisation, broadly depending upon their industry. So, what are the possibilities?

Manufacturing sector

In manufacturing, refreshing the network to support edge computing has huge potential. Processing at the edge significantly reduces the volume of data travelling to the cloud, which enables data centre consolidation, reduced energy consumption and accelerated decarbonisation.

It’s also fundamental to supporting Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven energy efficiency solutions that bring together real-time data from sensors and edge devices, machinery control settings, databases, external data and energy bills. This helps to identify the variables that impact energy consumption before providing real-time recommendations to keep energy consumption as low as possible.

Natural resources, chemical and energy sector

In the natural resources sector, edge computing is also having an impact. In mining, it supports remote sensing technologies that improve environmental outcomes following the closure of a site.

In the chemical industry, being able to optimise network performance, use scheduling tools and process control solutions streamlines production and cuts wastage throughout operations.

And energy companies are finding that being able to support monitoring and optimisation tools improves their data use and can decrease freshwater usage, reduce methane leaks and streamline processes to minimise energy waste.

Banking and financial services sector

In banking, the focus is on refreshing the network to improve data centre efficiency and understanding their own emissions, as well as the carbon footprint of third-party suppliers.

Adding proactive network monitoring to their refresh means they can identify faults early, fix these faults remotely to cut travel emissions and move towards a circular economy that includes strategic asset planning and management. In financial services, alongside data centre rationalisation, a more effective network is supporting a reduction in travel through more real-time video consultations and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors drive better building management that cuts energy use.

Retail sector

And if you look over at the retail sector, you’ll see widespread adoption of edge computing to support augmented reality solutions that allow remote auditing of suppliers, as well as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning in the smart warehouse to optimise processes and reduce costs and waste.

Here, the refreshed network is underpinning warehouse control systems that monitor and optimise timings, temperature and lighting – and can even recommend potential improvements.

Are you ready?

Sustainability improvements have to start right now – and your network is the ideal first step.

To learn more about our low carbon networking proposition, download the whitepaper we’ve created with Cisco.