Sustainability at the Intersection of Technology, Environment and Responsibility

by Ben Blanquera, VP, Evangelist and Senior Architect, Rackspace Technology

Solar Panels


Whether we realize it or not, we all contribute to the size of the global footprint left behind by our organizations. And as technologists, we have a responsibility to leave the environment in better shape than we found it.

Fortunately, we’re seeing an increased focus on sustainable IT as businesses, organizations, and governments strive to mitigate their impact on the environment. Beyond internal motivations, there is an uptick in investor interest in corporate sustainability and increased regulation to help steer organizations toward a greener future.  

Sustainability at its core is an intersection of economics, equity, and the environment — this Venn diagram illustrates our point of view. Let's further break down those three crucial components:

  1. Architecture decisions: The first leg centers around making architecture decisions, such as adopting a "Cloud First" approach to technology adoption. These decisions drive the creation and maintenance of a sustainable and environmentally friendly IT portfolio.
  2. Workforce choices and investment: The second leg focuses on IT workforce choices and investments. A sustainable and equitable workforce is key to the long-term success of sustainable IT practices. By investing in our people and embracing diversity and inclusion, we lay the foundation for a brighter, more sustainable future.
  3. Business priorities and responsible decision-making: The third leg encompasses business priorities and decisions that exemplify corporate responsibility toward a sustainable planet. It involves aligning our business strategies with sustainability goals, driving positive impacts and promoting a culture of accountability.

Sustainability Approach


Why the prioritization of sustainable IT is critical for every company

Companies of all sizes have both a moral obligation to conduct their business sustainably and a responsibility to exceed regulatory standards. Prioritizing sustainable IT can help organizations reduce their energy consumption, establish leadership in sustainability initiatives, and create long-lasting footprints that align with their values.

IT enterprises worldwide have already embarked on sustainable IT journeys, driving innovation, saving costs and time, and paving the way for meaningful environmental impact. Previously, C-level executives viewed sustainability, including IT infrastructures and practices, as a corporate social responsibility instead of a core business objective. Most saw a cost without immediate financial benefit. However, times have changed.

Now, executives realize that prioritizing eco-friendly practices can attract more customers and partners while leading to stronger product offerings. Environmental concerns are becoming increasingly entrenched in business units, positioning executives to tackle sustainability challenges proactively. As a result, CIOs seek to comply with the highest environmental standards early on, viewing sustainability as an opportunity rather than a compliance issue.

By prioritizing sustainable IT, companies can establish economic, equity, and environmental sustainability to create a better future for everyone. The benefits of taking the initiative are clear, making progress on sustainability issues while advancing their brands, elevating their reputation and delivering long-term value.

What can IT leaders do?

As CIOs, we hold a key leadership role in helping our organizations not only meet but surpass corporate sustainability goals. This extends beyond creating efficient IT infrastructures and encompasses embracing an equitable future for our industry, environment and society as a whole.

It is no secret that IT is a significant consumer of energy and natural resources. Therefore, adopting a sustainable approach to IT is imperative. Neglecting sustainable IT practices could result in higher costs, environmental damage and vulnerabilities to data availability and security. It may also lead to public distrust and decreased customer satisfaction.

To mitigate these risks and maximize sustainability, companies need to carefully consider the costs and challenges associated with cloud transformation. Leveraging public cloud computing allows organizations to reduce their environmental footprint, optimize resource utilization, and access green and renewable energy initiatives to align with sustainability goals. Embracing the cloud can translate to a decrease in reliance upon physical servers and hardware, thus reducing electricity consumption. By doing so, companies can better prepare for the potential expenses and complexities involved in managing public cloud solutions.

Furthermore, IT leaders should develop comprehensive workforce plans that prioritize equity and growth for their team members. Architectural and tool choices should prioritize simplicity and suitability for current needs rather than unnecessary complexity for hypothetical future use cases. Lastly, with the emergence of AI, leaders must invest in learning more about and practicing responsible AI principles.

By taking a holistic and proactive approach to sustainable IT leadership, CIOs can drive change, contribute to a healthier environment and position their organizations as industry trailblazers. Prioritizing sustainability not only enhances brand reputation but also ensures long-term viability and success in an increasingly conscious and competitive business landscape.

Making sustainability the priority

Those who have already made the transition to the cloud can teach others how to best make sustainable IT a priority. Elevating sustainability and environmental stewardship and tying these initiatives to successful outcomes allows businesses to reap the monetary rewards of energy efficiency, waste reduction and equity. Such extensive use of sustainable IT not only makes a cost center profitable, but also demonstrates that the company cares about preventing environmental damage and creating opportunities. Here are some specific goals we can strive to achieve:

  • We can try to better see and understand the trends in data center energy consumption and explore the implications of sustainability, sovereignty and cost.
  • We can strive to leverage the benefits of cloud computing and prioritize decisions that will help our company achieve a sustainable outcome. This may include making greener technology choices, minimizing complexity, driving uptake of public cloud services and developing a roadmap for a sustainable cloud transformation.
  • We can leverage cloud providers for services, manage data efficiently and invest in technology education for our workforces. Doing so can help us understand why sustainability is important and deliver multicloud solutions that have a positive impact.

Rackspace Technology® is demonstrating the importance of investing in people and technology to achieve sustainable business practices. Through collaboration with suppliers, creating training programs and embracing ESG (Environmental, social, and governance) principles, Rackspace is promoting the need for businesses to prioritize sustainability and ensure success for both their people and their products. Read Rackspace 2023 ESG report here.

The company is also doing its part to combat data sprawl to reduce carbon emissions, as well as focusing on the economic and social sustainability of its data management plans. Rackspace is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2045 and has already implemented smart building automation systems to manage light, heat and cooling, in addition to collecting information about greenhouse gas emissions.

This journey requires a partner

Rackspace Technology and Google Cloud are helping businesses accelerate their green digital transformations. We will guide you on your journey to ensure good hygiene, understand complex details and navigate unfamiliar territory, helping you make the best decisions to avoid mistakes and runaway usage.

Using the latest innovations, we can help reduce your carbon footprint while maximizing efficiency and saving money with cloud native architectures like serverless and containerized solutions. Going paperless benefits customers and the environment, and improved data visibility gives businesses an up-to-date view of their carbon usage to work towards balance. All this comes at minimal cost to the business.

Leaving a lasting footprint

The summer of 2023 was the hottest on record in decades, underscoring the importance of environmental issues. As leaders, we must consider the legacy we are leaving for future generations.

It's time to start thinking big. We have the opportunity to take a more holistic approach to leading to create a more sustainable future. To be successful and competitive in the years ahead, businesses must start exploring sustainable IT and assuming responsibility for the legacy we will leave future generations. Now is the time to rise to the challenge and use our knowledge and strategies to make big and meaningful changes.

Make a plan to shape a sustainable future for IT with steps that leave behind a lasting legacy. By implementing responsible practices that emphasize sustainability, we can all leave our proud imprint on the industry with footprints that will have real meaning for generations to come.

Get started on your sustainable IT journey today.