You may not think of your company’s desktop computers as the weakest link in your environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy.
But for some companies, they are. In multiple ways, desktop PCs contribute to bloated carbon footprints, undercut sustainability initiatives, and reinforce global social inequality.
That’s yet another reason why businesses can benefit from desktop-as-a-service, or DaaS, which may significantly reduce the environmental and social impact of their end-user computing infrastructure. ESG priorities have been receiving growing attention from enterprises globally. In fact, earlier this year, Gartner reported that “more than 90% of organizations increased their investments in sustainability programs since the start of the pandemic”.
Here’s how DaaS does this – and why achieving ESG goals through DaaS is an essential step toward business success.
The sustainability impact of desktop PCs
Desktop computers undercut ESG priorities in two main ways: by increasing emissions and contributing to e-waste.
PCs increase carbon emissions due to the electricity they consume. Since that electricity is more likely than not generated using coal or natural gas, a typical desktop computer can dump as much as 1,500 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere every year if it’s left on continuously – as many corporate desktops are because employees don’t want to have to wait for devices to restart or open back all of their apps on a recurring basis. It would take between 100 and 500 trees to offset those emissions.
And we’re talking here about a single computer. If you run hundreds or thousands of PCs, you’d need an entire forest to make up for the emissions they produce.
PCs and laptops can also be a nightmare from an e-waste perspective. Businesses routinely dispose of computing devices when the devices become unable to handle increased workload requirements. Devices may also be tossed because the company downsized, and it no longer needs as many computers.
When devices end up in dumps, the various chemicals inside them – which may include lead and arsenic, among others – leach into the ground, polluting the environment. That’s the opposite of what your business wants to do if it cares about ESG.
The fact that significant amounts of e-waste end up in developing countries is also a problem from an ESG perspective. Discarded desktops turn into poisonous trash on the doorsteps of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
How DaaS strengthens ESG commitments
Imagine a world where businesses no longer depended on fleets of energy-hungry, landfill-bound PCs to keep their workers productive. Such a world would involve significantly fewer emissions and a lot less e-waste.
Fortunately, that world is possible. By embracing DaaS, businesses can replace traditional PCs with virtual desktop environments that have a lower overall carbon footprint and that generate much less e-waste.
With DaaS, there’s no need to keep local PCs running (and contributing to carbon emissions) 24/7. Instead, employees can log into virtual desktop sessions when they need and shut off their local devices when they are done. In the meantime, the desktop sessions remain stored in the cloud, with no need to reboot the next time employees need to access applications or data.
DaaS also makes it easy for businesses to scale desktop computing infrastructure up and down without contributing to e-waste. If your company no longer needs as many desktops, it can simply turn off some of its virtual desktops, without throwing out any physical devices.
And if you find that your virtual desktops are no longer able to handle a particular kind of workload well, you don’t need to toss them in a dump and buy new machines. You can simply increase the virtual CPU and memory allocated to your virtual desktop instances in order to prepare them for heavier load.
Does DaaS have a sustainability cost?
To be sure, DaaS doesn’t totally eliminate emissions or e-waste. Electricity is required to run the servers that host virtual desktop instances, and employees need some kind of device to connect from when they want to access those instances.
Compared to traditional desktop infrastructure, however, virtual desktops are significantly less wasteful from a sustainability perspective, for several reasons:
- Economies of scale: You can run dozens of virtual desktops on a single server, which greatly reduces that amount of physical infrastructure required to power virtual desktop infrastructure.
- Cloud energy efficiency: In many cases, virtual desktops hosted in the cloud consume much less energy than devices running locally. The cloud is about 93 percent more energy-efficient than conventional infrastructure.
- Clean energy sourcing: It’s also often easier to source clean, renewable energy for cloud-based infrastructure, including servers that host virtual desktops. Your company’s office may not be able to obtain clean energy, but there’s a decent chance that your cloud data center is powered, at least in part, by wind or solar energy.
- Longer device lifetime: The devices that users use to connect to virtual desktops are likely to last longer because the devices don’t have to handle computing requirements locally. The “heavy lifting” takes place on cloud servers, which are designed to tolerate sustained periods of intense use.
In each of these ways, DaaS helps businesses achieve ambitious ESG goals – which is an increasingly important consideration for business success.
The Gartner report also points out that hyperscalers are actively investing in sustainable cloud operations with the lofty aim of achieving net zero emissions within this decade. Which means that we can look forward to innovative means to reduce carbon emissions through the effective use of cloud services.
How Anunta adds value to our clients’ ESG commitments
As an industry leader in Managed DaaS for over a decade, Anunta has been successfully adding value to the ESG commitments of our clients. In our engagements with the customers, we have helped them eliminate their dependency on high-end physical desktops – which require regular maintenance and updates – and replaced them with thin clients, thereby helping with power saving and reducing electronic device wastage.
The reduction in electronic waste along with the subsequent power saving have directly contributed to a significant reduction in our clients’ carbon footprint in our 10+ years engagements.
Migrating our customers’ workloads from on-premises to cloud is another area which positively contributes to our ESG commitments. By helping our customers leverage the energy efficiency offered by cloud, Anunta has been consistently helping its customers embrace sustainability.
Conventional PCs are a major source of waste and a contributor to global social inequity. But a better world is possible: With help from DaaS, businesses can build end-user computing environments that mesh well with ESG priorities.