Mat Clothier, CEO at Cloudhouse, explores the possibility of improving sustainability in IT without costly redevelopment or recoding
IT systems aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when we think about energy consumption and environmental impact. Yet, as the world turns its attention towards sustainability, businesses are beginning to look at every aspect of their operations where energy consumption can be reduced, and this includes IT systems.
Recent media reports about companies inflating their environmental credentials to appeal to customers – an act widely referred to as ‘greenwashing’ – highlight the importance of green credentials and the need to take meaningful action instead of making baseless claims. The growing public consciousness around the environment and climate change mean that organisations aren’t just looking at their approaches to sustainability – they are increasingly looking at the green credentials of the companies they do business with. Being connected or associated with a business deemed to have ‘dirty’ credentials can negatively impact the way a company is perceived by its existing and potential customers and partners.
Businesses that are savvy to these growing sustainability expectations should look at their in-house IT systems. Outdated in-house systems not only increase costs but also energy consumption, therefore replacing an inefficient one with a new, greener system can be beneficial to a business in terms of improving sustainability. However, this can also be a very costly project that requires investment in complex infrastructure updates and the re-training of IT staff.
Escalating costs and the end of ESU
Costs will be pushed up further for organisations relying on Windows operating systems that have reached the end of life. A significant number of businesses are yet to upgrade and are still using legacy Windows Server 2008 or Windows 7 versions which reached end-of-life in January 2020. The only option for receiving critical patches for these systems has been through Microsoft Extended Security Updates (ESU), but ESU for Windows Server 2008 or Windows 7 will end in a matter of months and the costs of continuing to receive support after this will be substantial.
To reduce these costs there is a new alternative approach that involves adopting solutions that enable applications to be compatible with existing processes, without the need to invest heavily in infrastructure changes or training and instead of making the best use of what is already there.
This new approach is enabling companies to balance costs while improving sustainability by allowing them to modernise and make changes to their current IT systems without the need for redevelopment or coding. The cloud is making this migration path possible, and offering companies looking to boost their environmental credentials a new way forward.
The cloud compatibility barrier
Continuing to use older operating systems can come with many downsides. In terms of environmental impact, staying on older systems prevents access to the energy efficiency gains that come with the latest systems. Whether desktop or server operating systems, the latest iterations will guarantee better energy efficiency gains. Added benefits include greater mitigation of security risks, the most up-to-date user experience, and the best compatibility with future software.
Migrating from legacy systems to new systems isn’t always straightforward and compatibility issues only complicate this further. Older systems can introduce complexity when working with other companies that have already upgraded their systems to consume less energy. Compatibility is often the single biggest for companies upgrading their systems, whether they are implementing a new on-premise system or migrating from on-premise to the cloud.
Incompatible software desktop or server applications that require upgrading can require redevelopment or refactoring first, while third-party software may also need to be upgraded. This can require costly investment. When upgrading to a new system such as Windows 10 or Windows Server 2019, the existing hardware will also need to be considered as there is a chance it could fail to meet the minimum requirements for newer operating systems. In some cases, the latest systems may not support attached devices. These challenges can add significant cost and complexity to a migration project.
Compatibility packaging: the way forward
Cloud compatibility packaging presents businesses with a simple and cost-effective option for bringing legacy applications into new operating environments, in turn enhancing IT systems to run more efficiently. It does this by wrapping existing software from the incumbent operating systems and provides compatibility with the new systems.
Compatibility packaging provides a scalable and stable approach to complete migration, not just for incompatible applications but legacy applications too. Businesses can move all of their incompatible and legacy applications to any modern Windows platform, whether on desktop, server or cloud. They can do this without any ESU costs, any code changes, or any need to upgrade or refactor. When an application is packaged, it can run on local servers and any current Windows version, or any major public cloud provider, with no changes required.
Sustainability may not seem particularly at home on an organisation’s IT agenda. Yet, as it becomes increasingly important in every facet of the business, cloud compatibility packaging is beginning to make even more sense for businesses that need to update legacy or incompatible applications for greater operational efficiency. This is a far simpler route to upgrading existing operating systems and overcoming the aforementioned barriers.