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Fujifilm Study Reveals Lack of Awareness About Environmental Impact of Storage Solutions

Research highlights need to address increased energy consumption and carbon emissions from data centers.

Fujifilm Recording Media USA., Inc. released the results of a global environmental awareness survey that found that while the majority (83%) of respondents cite Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) services and equipment as a sustainability priority, more than one-third (38%) of US businesses are either unaware or unsure of how inefficient storage can negatively impact the environment.

The study, titled Awareness Survey on Environmental Issues in the Digital Domain, surveyed 1,200 C-suite executives in 4 countries: Japan, the US, Germany and China. While there is a sense of growing awareness around broader environmental issues, the findings highlight a gap in education that must be bridged to address inefficient energy consumption in ICT operations. For example, while the majority of US respondents believe sustainability improvements in ICT services and equipment can positively impact a changing climate, 40% indicated that they did not know or were unsure if storage can have a negative environmental impact and increase the cost of doing business.

The need for large-scale storage is on the rise and is expected to reach more than 11ZB by 2025, according to a whitepaper by IDC. As demand rises, so too does the need for energy efficient storage. The environmental impact of the energy required to support this volume of storage is vastly underestimated, as are the subsequent carbon emissions. In fact, when asked in the survey what barriers exist for those who have not considered more eco-friendly storage options, globally more than one-third (34%) and 31% in the US cited a lack of awareness or understanding of the issue.

“We have clearly seen that with the increase in storage in recent years, the energy consumed by data centers has increased at an alarming rate. Our survey shows that we still have a long way to go in terms of optimizing data management to decrease impact on the environment,” said Hironobu Taketomi, president, Fujifilm Recording Media USA. “Fujifilm looks forward to working with other industry stakeholders to identify solutions, such as tape storage, that can help mitigate carbon emissions from storing data, which will help support the technical area of the United Nations Paris Agreement framework designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming.“

Additional findings among US respondents include:

  • While most respondents indicated that sustainability plays an important role in decision-making, 16% said that it did not and 22% of those surveyed shared that their companies do not take any measures toward reducing carbon emissions.
  • More than half (51%) of participants said that their companies are using renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions, while 22% said they are doing so via climate protection projects and 13% through carbon offsets.
  • Manufacturing (21%) and supply chain/transportation (21%) were perceived as the business areas that contributed the most to carbon emissions, vs. 12% for storage/management.
  • There was also a knowledge gap pertaining to frequently accessed hot data and less frequently accessed cold data, with more than one-third (36%) of respondents saying they either don’t or are unsure if they differentiate between the two. And 35% don’t realize that differentiating between hot and cold data can impact sustainability, affordability and security.
  • The vast majority of US respondents (84%) indicated ICT Services and equipment as priority areas for their organization to positively impact climate change, followed by recycling/waste (80%), facilities energy consumption (78%), and employee and customer awareness (78%).
  • When asked about barriers to adopting more sustainable storage strategies, respondents cited lack of awareness (31%) as the top reason for not making a change, followed by too much work (30%) and budget (26%).
  • Additionally, a clear majority of respondents (81%) noted that they would consider an alternative storage option that is more sustainable and affordable.

The survey is the latest initiative from Fujifilm supporting the environmental benefits of tape storage. In September, the company announced the launch of its LTO Ultrium 9 Data Cartridge, providing long-term storage and increased capacity while continuing to help reduce CO² emissions. This was followed by the October launch of the Sustainable storage Initiative, focusing on the benefits of tape technology to decrease energy use and CO² emissions from storage.

For example, alternative options for storage include LTO data tape. Migrating cold data from HDDs to tape can reduce data centers’ CO² emissions by 43.7% by 2030, avoiding 664 million metric tons of CO² cumulatively, according to IDC.


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