NaaS: Pulling the Levers towards Sustainable Success

While digital transformation has undoubtably helped businesses gain a competitive edge, increase profitability and enrich customer experiences across the globe, we cannot ignore technology’s contribution towards the world’s carbon footprint says Sherifa Hady, Vice President Channel, EMEA at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

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While digital transformation has undoubtably helped businesses gain a competitive edge, increase profitability and enrich customer experiences across the globe, we cannot ignore technology’s contribution towards the world’s carbon footprint. As climate change continues to dominate conversations amongst businesses and consumers alike, we need to commit to reducing technology’s environmental impact.

After all, if the IT industry were a country, it would be the fifth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world. What’s more, around fifty million tonnes of electronic-waste (e-waste) is generated globally every year, and this figure only looks set to rise.

Tackling this environmental crisis requires a collaborative effort across the entire technology ecosystem, from vendors to consumers themselves. From a channel perspective, partners must now play a crucial role in helping their customers navigate sustainability challenges. In fact, with environmental considerations increasingly driving many customers’ tech purchasing decisions, channel analyst Canalys recently stated that for partners, “Being able to position sustainability as a part of your IT-as-a-service offers is going to be key to your resale success.” Canalys also confirmed that for partners the environmental accountability of IT investments will be one of customers’ top priorities within the next two to three years.

But what exactly does a sustainable IT-as-a-service offer look like? Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) is a great place to start. Recent research from Aruba has shown a clear appetite for this new network consumption model amongst end-users across EMEA. Already recognised by potential customers as a key enabler of financial flexibility and business agility, here’s how NaaS can also pull those all-important sustainability levers.

Optimising energy consumption

NaaS provides end-customers with innovative and sustainable networks that they can ‘rent’ from the experts on a subscription basis. By partnering with an experienced NaaS vendor, channel companies can combine their unique understanding of their customer’s business with the vendor’s depth and breadth of product and solution knowledge to provide a network configuration that optimises energy consumption. To further reduce the customer’s carbon footprint, modern network vendors like Aruba also help deliver greener IT by sourcing electricity from renewables and utilising Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML)-based models to bring down power consumption.

Of course, a solid and sustainable NaaS offering should be underpinned by an environmental approach to networking across the entire IT supply chain. Channel partners need to reassure their customers they are working with certified sustainable vendors to ensure climate-conscious initiatives are embedded at the very top of the value chain. NaaS players such as HPE GreenLake for Aruba are already working towards their climate goals, with HPE seeing a 53% reduction in operational greenhouse emissions from 2016 levels and a 30x increase in the energy performance of its product portfolio, from its 2016 baseline.

Reusing hardware

Today’s NaaS offerings are increasingly accompanied by IT assed disposition (ITAD) services, a practice built around reusing, recycling or disposing of unwanted IT equipment in a safe and environmentally responsible way. In fact, 77% of businesses view ITAD assistance and e-waste services as an essential element of a NaaS offer according to IDC.

By factoring asset decommissioning strategies into their NaaS offering, channel partners can enable customers to participate in the circular economy, ensuring the life cycle of products is extended for as long as possible and reducing waste to a minimum.

On top of this, with digital transformation pressures rising, purse strings on IT budgets tightening, and technology lifecycles shortening, organisations can add value back to their business through this model of consumption. Upcycling and remarketing idle equipment can give functional assets a second useful life, and in turn provide money back to the business for customers. Choosing pre-owned equipment where appropriate can help to expand budget for innovation projects where new technology is paramount.

Delivering data

As sustainability requirements increase, and with the eyes of the world watching, organisations will be challenged to deliver more sustainability and environmental reporting than ever before. But with networking skills a scarce resource and existing IT teams stretched to capacity trying to deliver against the continued demands of digital transformation, help is desperately needed to deliver back the necessary data.

With NaaS, organisations can again buy in this expertise – and rely on their channel partner to provide them with key metrics around power usage, carbon emissions, and end-of-life disposal.

In recent years, sustainability has soared to the top of the business agenda for most organisations. Channel partners have an important role to play in connecting the dots between sustainable vendors and customers seeking to deliver green IT.

A solid NaaS offering should reassure customers that an environmental approach to networking is being taken across the entire IT supply chain. The subscription-based model delivered through the channel allows customers to enjoy the benefits of sustainable network practices, enables them to reduce the amount of IT equipment needed and operate their existing equipment at higher levels of utilisation, offset environmental damage through hardware reuse and technology refreshes, and help report back on their environmental progress.

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