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Veritas Perspectives

Embrace a cleaner digital environment for a cleaner natural one

ChrisTalbott's avatar
8 years ago


Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about data creation. Not really about how I create data or what I create, but in this weird existential sense.  Data creation is both integral and invisible to me.  Not only are we rarely held accountable for our creation as individuals, we are blind to any impact or consequence it may have beyond its usefulness in the moment. Never asking questions like where it goes, who can see it, who could steal it, are there engineers that keep it available, how much energy is used to power the server that it lands on, and so on.   As such we rarely consider slowing, changing, stopping or thinking at all about the way we create and store data.  Unfortunately, we need to start considering it.

Enterprises have some dirty digital habits

At Veritas I uniquely get to see the consequences of that digital ambivalence as we help global organizations reduce the costs and risks that come with accelerating their digital transformation.  The truth is, the digital landscape we are all navigating is changing drastically and the impact it is having both positively and negatively, is big. The risk that organizations are carrying in their data is growing, as employees are admittedly storing personal, potentially damaging and confidential information across personal and corporate machines. The current data growth rate of 39% year over year[1] is already cost-pressuring infrastructure teams and fueling frantic development in global data centers, whose storage capacity is expected to reach 1.8 zettabytes in 2020.[2]  And by 2030 those data centers will consume approximately 13% of the globe’s total electricity[3].  With the compounding and exponential effects of data growth, organizations will increasingly influence and potentially threaten an already fragile environmental situation.

 If stored in an on-premises data center with average energy efficiency, the energy required to store the 10 petabytes of data the average enterprise owns would release close to 17 billion pounds of Co2 over the next 10 years.  That’s equivalent to putting 1.6 million cars on the road.  And that is if data growth remains constant.  If we experience an acceleration of just 5% it would mean an additional 1.4 million more cars over the same period.[4]

 Cloud storage promises a cleaner future

If you’re like most enterprises, you probably view cloud storage as offering relief to this problem. But blindly moving massive amounts of data up to the cloud can actually drive up costs and increase risks – especially if you’re one of the many enterprises that need to carefully consider and navigate an evolving regulatory landscape. Depending on the cloud platform you choose to store data or run applications on, the electricity powering it comes in varying degrees of renewability from primarily coal powered to almost entirely carbon neutral.  Companies should consider where they can save energy by reducing their data in addition to conscientiously choosing an energy efficient cloud provider.

 Regardless of which provider you choose getting data to the cloud is important. It would be extremely difficult for an individual organization to achieve the energy efficiency of the hyper-scale providers with their on-premises data center[5]. With access to economies of scale and massive purchasing power agreements your average public cloud provider is around 80% more energy efficient.  If we take the same example used above, a public cloud releases 14 billion pounds less Co2 to store the same amount of data. The cloud is cleaner.

 Veritas helps you efficiently get your data to the cloud

Veritas is uniquely positioned to help organizations embrace the cloud and pursue better data management in a more sustainable manner.  While absolutely critical, backup data spends most of its time idle, and unleveraged except during a restore, recovery or discovery event, wasting energy as it sits. Backup data is low hanging fruit to move to a renewable energy powered cloud.  Veritas’ information protection solutions are connecting with major cloud providers to ensure data stays protected but organizations are free to move applications and data to and from cloud platforms

 Through the integration of our 360 Data Management solutions Veritas customers can also visualize their unstructured data, so that you’re empowered to identify target data for deletion, target data for migration to the cloud and target data for colder, less energy-intensive storage tiers.

Veritas focuses much of our energy and product development on helping organizations fight data growth and waste in order to reduce the storage costs and regulatory risks of their data. In pursuing that goal, success often comes down to motivation.  Motivation is paramount to inciting compliance teams and users to adhere to a retention policy, to delete data that no longer has business or legal relevance and to reconsider their wasteful storage behavior.  As we’ve seen in our Data Hoarding research users are the fundamental cause of the problem and most admit to currently being unmotivated to change.

 To change that hoarding epidemic, organizations not only need technology solutions, they need to engage users to utilize and manage information in an efficient manner. In recent focus groups, when participants were presented with multiple potentially-motivating factors they reacted most positively to environmental motivators as compared to costs, legal implications or security risks. We want to capitalize on that motivation and introduce a data management movement that really incites users to change their hoarding and risky behavior.

 Join the new digitally green movement

As the enterprise data management company, we’re excited to be the first to adopt the new digitally-green movement, one that is less wasteful, safer and more compliant and sets us up for success in our own digital transformation. Our own corporate responsibility group is partnering with the business to promote a simple email signature: Rethink Storage. Grow Trees. Not Data



Ten years ago a simple email suggestion of “Please think before you print” helped bring awareness to unnecessary printing behaviors and paper waste. Veritas believes that individuals can help generate awareness around the fact that while data may be invisible it has energy consequences and everyone’s storage actions play a part in that.   There is opportunity for everyone to Rethink some of our typical behaviors and ask ourselves:

  • Could you pause, reconsider and reduce your typical document and email versioning proliferation?
    • In aggregating examples of file analytics reports and email archives across our customers we estimate around 50% of unstructured data is duplicated.
  • Are you copying work files to home and personal files to work? Are you in the habit of copying a file to box, Dropbox, your desktop and attaching to an email? Is that necessary?
    • An average email or document is infinitesimal in the grand scheme of things but every action adds up.
  • When was the last time you conducted a digital spring cleaning?
    • 41% of the average enterprise environment hasn’t been modified in the last three years, and of that 12% is untouched in the last seven. There is stuff in there you don’t need to keep.
  • Do you have controls in place for when employees leave their data behind?
    • 5% of the average enterprise environment is orphaned data without an active owner. This population of data is also much denser content relative to the rest of the environment.
  • Do you have documented retention and disposition policies that you ignore?
    • Archiving and tiered storage and automated disposition are likely policies or technologies you have in place but just aren’t using to their full extent.

 These considerations could go a long way in reducing the environmental impact of our digital footprint.  But these changes won’t only drive environmentally beneficial outcomes.  Ultimately we want to help the market recognize that a cleaner, greener and more compliant digital environment can not only help the planet but be a catalyst for their digital transformation.

Download the email signature on our web page and join the movement today!

If you’re attending Google Next 2017 March 8-10, be sure to connect with us and discuss your plans for embracing a cleaner digital environment.


[1] Veritas, “Data Genomics Index” February 2016.

[2] Cisco, “Global Cloud Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2015-2020”

[3] Cisco, “Global Cloud Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2015-2020”

[4] WSP Environment & Energy, LLC & Natural Resources Defense Council, “The Carbon Emissions of Server Computing for Small to Medium-Sized Organizations. A Performance Study of On-Premises vs. The Cloud, 2012”

[5] WSP Environment & Energy, LLC & Natural Resources Defense Council, “The Carbon Emissions of Server Computing for Small to Medium-Sized Organizations. A Performance Study of On-Premises vs. The Cloud, 2012”

Updated 8 years ago
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