The need for greater focus on more sustainable practices is something that has become of significant importance to most nations. And it’s clear to see why as we look at our environment and see the danger for future generations. Microsoft takes this responsibility very seriously and considers sustainability as part of the organization’s culture. Therefore, it’s important to develop products and services with sustainability in mind. This is why a platform like Windows 365 is so great because of the potential it has. In this blog, I’ll be looking at just how Windows 365 can help in the development and implementation of more sustainable solutions.
Importance of sustainable practices
Over the twentieth century, we witnessed incredible advances in technology and innovation. And no one can deny the benefits that humanity has reaped from all this development. However, a lot of the time these developments occur without any concern for the environment around us. All around us the results are evident in the depletion of natural resources, pollution, deforestation, poor air quality, etc. If we consider just the United States alone the CO2 emissions are already concerning and could potentially reach very dangerous levels in a few more decades.
Fortunately, over the last few decades, people have become increasingly aware of how terribly our planet has suffered. And now organizations like Microsoft are working tirelessly to develop sustainable technologies that can limit the negative impact that we humans have on the environment. Ideally, these technologies should limit environmental degradation during the manufacturing stage as well as during usage. Unfortunately, a lot of the environmental damage cannot be reversed. But with services like Windows 365, Microsoft is looking to protect our environment from further destruction.
Impact of technology on the environment
For a lot of folks, when you think about technology what comes to mind are computers, cellphones, tablets, smart gadgets, and anything else that has become a must-have, integral part of our lives. Not many will consider the environmental impact of their cellphone or PC. But, the reality is that the devices we use all require various materials to make them and these include finite natural resources, precious metals, and more.
Also, we cannot ignore the environmental impact of the mining process itself. It is responsible for deforestation, landscape destruction, and water pollution. And this is long before we even address the often incalculable loss suffered by entire communities that may face displacement.
And then there is the colossal energy consumption and production of gas emissions that are involved. Unfortunately, this doesn’t end with the mining process. We find that manufacturers as well will require huge amounts of energy to turn the products of mining into the modern high-tech devices that end up in our homes.
After the manufacturers are done, businesses will rely on vast transport networks to get the various products delivered to clients all across the globe. So, as we move along the chain, more and more energy is required and gas emissions keep increasing. To add to all of this, the cost to the environment will keep growing for the lifecycle of these gadgets. Because every time you plug a device into a non-renewable energy source there is a carbon cost incurred.
Unfortunately, however, the cycle doesn’t end once a device is no longer in use. Tens of billions of dollars (yes, billions) worth of electronic waste is thrown away annually, with most of its remains ending up in landfills or burned. As much as recycling may be gaining traction, not enough old electronic devices are being recycled.
The carbon emissions from dumping electronics are massive. But we additionally have to worry about the leaching of chemicals which is going to worsen environmental degradation and potentially pollute water. This can be extremely frustrating especially when considering how beneficial it would actually be to the environment if we could reclaim valuable materials through recycling. Not to mention the potential employment creation and economic benefits.
Why is Windows 365 important?
Windows 365 is a platform that Microsoft has designed to offer an innovative, virtualization service that can help minimize our negative impact on the environment. Announced in 2021, Windows 365 enables users to access Cloud PCs from anywhere.
As businesses increasingly continue to embrace the idea of a hybrid work environment, Windows 365 wants to be the solution and hybrid platform of choice for those workers looking to migrate to the cloud. By streaming Windows 10 or Windows 11 to almost any available device, Microsoft will offer users the ability to take their desktops anywhere. And Microsoft assures clients that Cloud PCs are highly secure so users can work remotely with greater peace of mind.
Immediately you begin to see how Windows 365 is hugely beneficial to the environment. Because all your computing needs are taken care of on the Microsoft Cloud, you don’t necessarily need a powerful device. As a result, it means that organizations may not need to keep purchasing devices for new employees. And they also won’t need to keep refreshing devices every few years. To make accessing Cloud PCs convenient and easy, Microsoft allows you to use most devices.
All you need is a decent internet connection and you’ll be able to operate a reasonably powerful Windows PC using just about any device. So, all Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices should be compatible with Windows 365. The best part, however, is that clients will be able to easily stream a Windows 365 session to hardware running macOS, iOS, Linux, and Android. Ultimately what this will mean is that businesses won’t need to be potentially throwing away PCs as often as they do now. In addition to the environmental benefits, the financial upside for businesses would be massive.
Network servers are key infrastructure and have a tendency of taking up a lot of on-site space. That’s not all but the hassle of maintaining said servers including the security personnel to oversee and monitor them can drive costs sky high. Fortunately, Windows 365 has made it possible for organizations to reduce both this expenditure and the business’ physical footprint.
The fact of moving operations to the cloud means the amount of office space needed is significantly decreased. A modest business premise will probably be all that’s necessary instead of the vast swathes of corporal real estate typical of pre-pandemic offices.
Furthermore, thanks to the remote working models adopted by companies during the pandemic and the flexibility Windows 365 affords, it may be possible for a sizable part of the workforce to continue working remotely full-time.
One of the biggest selling points when it comes to Windows 365 is that you pay only for what you need. Organizations, both big and small, can pick the subscription model that best fits them.
The subscription models available are Windows 365 Business for smaller businesses and Windows 365 Enterprise for larger ones. Regardless of which you choose, you get the same range of features and an extensive 12 Cloud PC configurations from which to make your selection. For those looking for a bargain, the first configuration is worth considering. For just $20 you get 1vCPU, 2GB RAM, and 64GB storage. If your employees are frontline workers or only require access to basic CRM software then this configuration is ideal. For more demanding operations, the $158 option gives you access to 8 vCPUs, with 32GB RAM and 512GB storage. This setup works best for those dealing with heavy computing scenarios like software engineers. Whether you’re looking for a lightweight or heavy-duty option, there is a solution for you.
The reason why this is so important is that having access to the computing resources you need and no more can help to reduce electricity consumption. When you look at traditional data hardware systems, they require a consistent power supply to run the infrastructure efficiently. Not to mention things like cooling fans, alarm systems, etc. All these elements combined consume a significant amount of electricity.
LARGE ENTERPRISES BENEFIT, TOO
And the bigger the organization, the larger the infrastructure will be, and consequently the greater the electricity consumption. Windows 365 offers organizations the option to migrate their operations to the cloud and start saving energy. Some reports have suggested that cloud migration has the potential to reduce energy consumption by up to 65%. If accurate this would undoubtedly be a great step towards achieving sustainability goals. And if you can reduce energy consumption by that much then that will also reflect very favorably in the organization’s finances.
STATS TO SUPPORT A REDUCTION IN ENERGY CONSUMPTION
In addition to the potential reduction in energy consumption, there is some research that appears to suggest that organizations can reduce their carbon emissions by 72 to 98% by moving their IT infrastructure from traditional data centers to the cloud. In this Microsoft white paper, we are told:
“Microsoft Cloud is between 22 and 93% more energy efficient than traditional enterprise data centers, depending on the specific comparison being made. When taking into account our renewable energy purchases, the Microsoft cloud is between 72 and 98% more carbon efficient.”
Typically, we expect cloud data centers to help reduce carbon emissions because they will generally have newer, more efficient equipment and are increasingly relying on renewable energy. Although measuring and reducing carbon emissions presents significant challenges, a lot of research is still going on to aid the development of more sustainable solutions.
Assessing your sustainability
With an increasing number of organizations being concerned about sustainability, it may be time for your business to start planning an assessment. Especially considering the public interest in sustainable businesses. Before you start looking at sustainable solutions and how to implement them, you need to do an assessment of your business operations and the impact on the environment. Once you have that information and a clear picture of your business’ operations, you can develop baselines that you can build on. There are various assessments that can be carried out and below are some of them.
EVALUATION OF ENERGY USAGE AND EFFICIENCY
Businesses often have massive energy consumption, although some will obviously utilize far more than others. By doing a thorough assessment, you can see how your business is operating and this will enable you to not only reduce energy consumption but greenhouse gas emissions as well, among other things. A good way to complete this assessment may include working alongside engineers and other experts in sustainable practices.
EVALUATION OF YOUR ORGANIZATION’S CARBON FOOTPRINT
When looking at how businesses emit greenhouse gases that list is often a very long one. The most obvious would be powering your premises, manufacturing processes, transportation of staff, distribution of products, etc. As we can see from the few listed examples, carrying out this assessment is far from a simple exercise. However, it’s an extremely important process if you want to see what your business carbon footprint looks like.
Unlike with the energy audit, measuring your carbon footprint requires the calculation of the greenhouse gases emitted by your business premises and the various operations. The energy audit and carbon footprint measurement work hand in hand since they expectedly affect each other. And similar to the energy audit, measuring your greenhouse gas emissions is easy when executed by a professional team/service.
A lot of businesses have been adopting hybrid working setups in the last few years. After the pandemic, as things slowly started to return to normal, businesses were discovering that some employees still preferred to work from home. And the great thing about the Windows 365 Cloud PC is that it allows users to work easily from anywhere without compromising the organization’s security.
But, the benefits of the Cloud PC go beyond the flexibility afforded to employees. If people are given the option to work from home, they will. And this reduces their need for commuting and consequently the demands on the transportation sector. In a report by The Global Workplace Analytics, they made the assessment that remote workers can contribute massively to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by removing over half a million cars from the road. In addition, they go on to state that even working from home half the week can see an emissions reduction of up to 54 million tons every year.
Something else that we could potentially benefit from is a cleaner atmosphere. There’s no denying that the fuel used by cars or the emissions from buses have played a massive role in the rapidly declining quality of the air we breathe. So sustainable solutions that can help improve the quality of air would be most welcome.
At the height of the pandemic during the lockdowns, a lot of people would have noticed how the quality of air appeared to improve, albeit temporarily. Therefore, adopting platforms like Windows 365 could do a lot to mitigate the effects of environmental degradation. In addition to the environmental benefits, there’s plenty more to like when you look at the features of Windows 365.
And it’s these features that enable this service to be an attractive option for organizations looking to minimize their environmental footprint. Among these features we can list:
- Instant boot to a personal Cloud PC.
- Clients get the full Windows experience in the cloud.
- Clients can also stream various applications, tools, data, and settings directly from the Microsoft Cloud across any device.
- You get a choice of running either Windows 10 or Windows 11.
- Secure by design, and fully compliant with Microsoft’s Zero Trust principle.
- Flexible per-user, per-month pricing plans at flat subscription rates.
- A scalable set of virtual hardware parameters that lets you adjust to changing conditions whenever necessary.
- Fully compliant with Azure AD and MEM.
- Fast setup process that provisions your Cloud PC within minutes.
Microsoft is clearly playing a significant role in trying to help businesses achieve their sustainability goals and accelerate that progress. And another key element is the Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability which combines environmental, social, and governance (ESG) capabilities across the Microsoft cloud portfolio to enhance the way businesses are operating. This is in addition to the solutions from Microsoft partners who they’re working with to enable organizations to get the necessary transparency and insights for the effective management of their environmental footprint.
These efforts should also allow organizations to implement sustainability throughout their entire organizations and value chains. As a result, businesses will be able to develop new value in this changing landscape. By leveraging Unify data intelligence, you’ll be able to get the visibility required for you to push business transformation, sustainability efforts, and sustainability reporting. What this means is that your organization can streamline data ingestion, integration, and calculations as well as analyze and report environmental impact and sustainability progress.
Next, we can talk about how to build a sustainable IT infrastructure. This approach enables businesses to identify opportunities to swap out their existing suite of solutions for cleaner versions that increase the business’ overall value. Leveraging this option you can:
- Establish carbon and energy efficiencies within cloud infrastructure.
- Evaluate, track, and assist with enhancing compliance with international, regional, and industry policies and standards.
- Incorporate sustainable technologies designed with environmental impact in mind.
Another key thing you’ll want to do is reduce environmental impact of operations. Businesses need to assess their operations, systems, tools, etc, to determine how they can reduce their environmental footprint. This is important so that you can:
- Promote energy efficiencies and move towards renewable energy sources.
- Upgrade transportation systems and improve fleets.
- Minimize the environmental impact of buildings, spaces, and equipment.
- Facilitate streamlined collaboration regarding targets and objectives.
Furthermore, we cannot ignore the issue of creating sustainable value chains. This is a critical area that allows you to put in place measures for transparency and accountability throughout the entire value chain. So that means from the businesses where you source your materials right through the end of use. Ultimately, this should enable you to optimize materials and thus create more sustainable products and services.
What else does Windows 365 offer?
Meeting sustainability goals is a wonderful target to have but organizations need to know what else Windows 365 can offer.
SECURE HYBRID WORK
As attractive as the idea of achieving sustainability is, without top-notch security migrating to the cloud would not be a good idea. So, Microsoft has enhanced security measures by implementing Zero Trust principles enabling each request to be fully authenticated, authorized, and encrypted before access is granted. Add to that the fact that data is not stored on the physical devices but on the cloud and you have even more protection around your data. These measures should help to assuage concerns about the security of remote work as well as the risk of security breaches. Not to forget as well that Windows 365 clients can benefit from the already existing solutions that are part of Microsoft Endpoint Manager.
SIMPLE TO USE
Microsoft boasts that the user-friendliness of this service means organizations won’t have to hire additional IT specialists to configure and supervise Cloud PCs. This effortless management model and instant start-up capacity means that even the less tech-savvy members of your team can perform their duties without too much trouble. This is something that may also help you to lower overall operating costs. Furthermore, your IT staff can manage, deploy, and configure the PC environment just as they have done all along.
Change is something that is rarely easy to accomplish but is often necessary. As our environment continues to suffer, individuals and organizations need to start working towards sustainable goals. And the IT sector can do a lot to help the cause of this planet. Microsoft has taken a huge interest in sustainable development and we see that with services like Windows 365. The solutions it offers can play a big role in reducing energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste. Undoubtedly this will not be an overnight process but progress needs to be swift because of the situation we already find ourselves in. Fortunately, as the push for more eco-friendly products and services gathers momentum, we are seeing greater participation from all industries. And this can only be a good thing for the planet.