InterviewsSustainability

Technology Can Assist Businesses with Optimising the Use of Resources

Feras Abu Aladous, the Systems Engineering Sr. Manager for META at Juniper Networks, says businesses that embrace a core strategy of resilience will be able to overcome challenges

How does technology contribute to sustainability?
Technology is so integral to business nowadays that it not only contributes to sustainability but shapes the sustainability impact of every business, across all sectors. With the proper implementation, technology can assist businesses with: optimising the use of resources and manufacturing processes, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and minimising waste.

Devices across the whole of a business’s infrastructure, ranging from sensors to computers and servers, can become much more energy efficient, which can create a significant impact on everyday energy consumption. On top of this, breakthrough technologies such as AI and machine learning empower businesses to gain insight into energy usage and can recommend ways to be more energy and cost-efficient (for example building usage). AI and machine learning are helping to solve some of the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges to accelerate innovation and keep the vision of a circular economy alive even in turbulent times.

What sort of sustainability efforts does your company practice?
Juniper considers sustainable networking to deliver ever-increasing energy efficiency on top of environmentally responsible materials and responsible end-of-life product management. Through a multi-year process, we have developed a tool to measure the energy efficiency of all hardware products, the carbon emissions inherent in those products’ production, delivery, and use, as well as their potential for recyclability and reuse in a circular economy.

Last January, we pledged to achieve carbon neutrality across our global operations by 2025. Juniper’s carbon-neutral strategy is focused on two long-term sustainable approaches: leveraging energy efficiency measures and increasing the use of clean energy sources. We currently have solar power purchase agreements in place for our facilities in Bangalore, our most energy-intensive site, and we continue to work on efficiency measures such as lab consolidation to lower our total electricity use.

Do we need to look at sustainability beyond the use of “green energy”?
While the importance of green energy cannot be overstated, businesses need to address all aspects of sustainability (environmental, social, and economic) in order to drive progress and make an impact. For example, integrity, ethics, effective governance, compliance and reporting, talent support, and respect for labour and human rights across operations and the supply chain are all crucial. Of course, sustainability is all about resilience: to change, to risk, to disease and natural disaster, to the challenges of a warming planet.

Businesses that embrace a core strategy of resilience will be able to overcome challenges, mitigate risks, and capitalise on opportunities. According to recent research commissioned by Juniper Networks in the region, IT decision makers and office workers in Saudi Arabia (95 percent) and in the UAE (91 percent) want to see more action from their organisation towards environmental sustainability in the next two to five years. This research clearly shows it is top of mind for a lot of workers as the sustainability agenda continues to gain prevalence.

How can companies reduce their carbon footprint?
Climate change is the greatest threat to our planet, and Juniper Networks believes the IT industry must play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as energy consumption rises in response to increasing digitalisation. Consequently, companies should invest in hardware, software, and service solutions that support a circular economy, lower operational costs, and contribute to a healthier, more consumption-conscious ecosystem. End-user and supply chain-related emissions should also be considered.

There are local and regional initiatives by the UAE Government to encourage organisations to adopt sustainable business practices. For example, the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) provides an ambitious and clearly defined roadmap for regional climate action, ensuring a coordinated and localised response to the unique ways in which climate change affects Middle Eastern countries.

The UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative is a national drive to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. In parallel, the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy has also approved updated plans to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent before the end of 2030. Participating in these initiatives can help companies amplify their efforts in reducing their carbon footprint. Saudi Arabia also has launched its roadmap for climate action called Saudi Green Initiative, which paves the way for the Kingdom’s plan to reach net zero emissions by 2060.

What challenges do companies face today in their journey toward net zero and how can technology help solve those issues?
Digital technologies have brought revolutionary efficiency in sectors ranging from communications to transportation to industrial production. However, there is a paradox here: these savings have been countered by a surge in energy demand to power and cool data centres, cloud infrastructure, and other ICT products and services – and much of this energy is still generated from fossil fuels. The more we demand our digital networks, the more these dependencies will grow.

As reported in the research by Juniper Networks, IT decision makers and office workers in the UAE (92 percent) and Saudi Arabia (88 percent) feel networking is important to contribute towards climate change measures. Therefore, IT systems need to be designed with sustainability in mind from the beginning if they are to effectively assist organisations in their quest for net zero.

What factors can help companies advance toward their sustainability goals?
Organisations are now more motivated than ever to become more sustainable with their overall IT operations and, in particular, their data centres, therefore selecting the right vendor is critical. Progressive vendors are finding new and innovative ways to create full-stack solutions that significantly reduce power consumption, keep systems cool without using excessive energy, and increase the lifecycle of components within the data centre through hardware design and the use of AI and automation technologies.

Since 2008, Juniper’s R&D efforts have been focused on reducing the power (and space) consumption of our solutions and our flagship products have seen well over 90% reductions in power consumption. We will continue this work with steadfast vigor and urgency as we pledge measurable, meaningful improvements to our environmental sustainability footprint.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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