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Could demand for carbon-neutral technology be a selling point for MSPs?

VMware this week launched a VMware Zero Carbon Committed partner initiative through which it intends to direct end customers concerned about sustainability with service providers running VMware software in energy- and carbon-efficient data centers.

This effort is part of a larger commitment VMware has made to ensure data centers running its software rely on 100% renewable energy by 2030, said Nicola Peill-Moelter, director of sustainability innovation for VMware.

For managed service providers (MSPs), the VMware initiative suggests that there may be financial benefits in climate-friendly technology, a win-win both for MSPs and the environment.

Partners that participate in the VMware Cloud Verified program that have already agreed to participate in the VMware Zero Carbon Committed program include Atea, Equinix, IBM, Microsoft and OVHcloud.

Also read: Vetting Vendors is Key to Cloud Sales and Success for MSPs

Climate benefits from economy recovery plans

Interest in sustainability is on the rise around the globe as countries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic provide economic incentives for organizations to reduce carbon emissions as part of their economic recovery plans. In fact, regardless of the degree to which any partner might embrace climate change action, the fact that countries are providing organizations with economic incentives to reach specific carbon emission goals makes investing in sustainability a good business decision, notes Peill-Moelter. “There’s a strong signal from the market,” she said.

More than 1,300 organizations thus far have committed to a United Nations Science Based Targets (SBT) initiative to reduce absolute carbon emissions in their operations and supply chains as part of an effort to reach net zero carbon goals by 2050. Many of those organizations will accelerate those efforts as part of marketing efforts that seek to assure their end customers they are proactively taking steps to protect the environment.

The issue that partners that host software on behalf of customers will encounter as a result of those initiatives is that as the number of workloads deployed continues to exponentially expand in the era of the cloud, so too does the amount of carbon being generated by servers and storage systems, notes Peill-Moelter. Much of that infrastructure, unfortunately, is left running even when workloads are idle, she added.

In time, VMware envisions advances in automation and artificial intelligence (AI) that will make it easier to run workloads at scale and consume infrastructure more efficiently, said Peill-Moelter. There are also nascent efforts to train software developers to write code in a way that consumes cloud infrastructure more efficiently, added Peill-Moelter.

VMware plays matchmaker

Initially, VMware will essentially play the role of matchmaker between end customers looking for ways to run VMware software in a way that reduces carbon emissions. As the VMware sustainability program continues to evolve, VMware also plans to provide additional sustainability training, noted Peill-Moelter. The company also makes available CloudHealth by VMware, a set of tools for analyzing cloud workloads that is accessed via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform.

Of course, data centers are only one part of a larger complex sustainability equation. In addition to efforts to reduce the amount of carbon emitted there are also research efforts underway that, beyond planting additional forests, are exploring ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere more efficiently. In the meantime, however, scrutiny of data centers that can consume more energy than a small city is only going to intensify. One way or another that increased focus on energy efficiency is only going to help the bottom line of the partner community.