When the first quarter closes and the calendar turns to April, companies receive a little reminder that tells them it’s time to reexamine the environmental impact of their operations. We’re talking, of course, about Earth Day. The annual tradition has gone a long way toward raising awareness for corporate social responsibility and encouraging more sustainable business practices. But to see the most transformative effects – for your business and your community – companies need to do a little more than encourage employees to print double-sided reports and unplug the coffee maker before leaving on Friday.
Recognizing the Data Drain
If you ask 10 different employees what is the leading contributor to the company’s energy bills, you’ll likely get 10 different answers. So what’s truly draining the resources of most organizations? Data.
Without data, the modern business is paralyzed. From employee insurance forms to market intelligence, companies take every precaution to ensure that information is safely stored and available whenever it is needed. The trouble is, few people outside the IT department understand where gigabytes go after you save a Word document or download a presentation. Not only does that data sit on your hard drive, it is likely backed up and eventually archived on tape, disk and in the cloud.
This information doesn’t sleep at night either. Servers are running and disks are spinning around the clock to make sure that data is secure. And as servers multiply and tape archives expand, the amount of energy consumed is immense. According to the Clipper Group, approximately 32 kilowatt-hours are consumed annually for each and every gigabyte of data held on SATA disks.
With companies now routinely storing terabytes of data, and some venturing into zettabyte territory, sustainability certainly comes to mind when looking at your monthly electric bill.
Turning to Tape
Whether for compliance requirements or business interests, the majority of data stored by companies is old records. Although they are not called upon for everyday operations (with 95% of data never accessed again after 90 days), they are still in the background siphoning their own portion of the electric grid. The good news is, relying on tape drives as opposed to disks can have a significant impact on energy consumption.
Although tape has its detractors, it continues to outpace the competition in terms of total cost of ownership and energy-efficiency. And when extrapolated to the massive scale of an offsite storage partner like Iron Mountain, the numbers speak for themselves.
Using the Environmental Protection Agency‘s conversion factor for kilowatt-hours to metric tons of carbon emissions, Iron Mountain’s customers cut approximately 1.7 billion tons of CO2 by storing their data on more than 79 million tapes as an alternative to disk storage. With this weight off their back, companies are free to manage leaner, more efficient systems that are better for the environment and better for the bottom line.