Earth Day 2020: Planting Seeds of Sustainability Innovation for the Future

April 22nd officially marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the annual event that brings awareness to the importance of climate action to help heal our planet. In these unprecedented times of sheltering in place, homeschooling, and Zoom meetings, Earth Day is a further reminder of our interdependence on each other and on our planet. No doubt this period of social distancing has taught us how our actions today have implications for the future.

This Earth Day, VMware’s rallying cry—Every Bit Counts—is more meaningful than ever. As CTO, I am committed to championing our long-term sustainability goals, in partnership with Nicola Acutt, VMware’s VP of Sustainability Strategy, for our customers, community, and for a better future.

Sustainability as a Source of Innovation

Within VMware’s Office of the CTO (OCTO), our charter is to explore opportunities for creating long-term value through collaboration and co-innovation across VMware product groups, and externally with the VMware ecosystem. Together with the sustainability team, our shared belief in OCTO is that sustainability is innovation’s next frontier. We are constantly exploring ways to make our products more efficient, from the code we write, how we test, to creating programs that help our customers achieve their goals.

Customers Demand Sustainability

In a recent Global Forbes Survey, 70% of CIOs say they will have a responsibility to use technology for the greater social good. Sustainability is now an industry-wide imperative. We see our customers set challenging sustainability goals, such as science-based targets (which we’ve also set for ourselves), and we believe we are in a strategic position to help them achieve their sustainable IT goals. Sustainability is more than the right thing to do, it brings value to our customers and is a sensible path to a resilient and better future.

A recent IDC whitepaper, Exploring the Impact of Infrastructure Virtualization on Digital Transformation Strategies and Carbon Emissions, estimates that in 2018, customer use of VMware’s virtualization solutions helped avoid ~145 million metric tons of CO2 emissions by optimizing IT infrastructure (91 million metric tons) and reducing data center emissions (54 million metric tons). This avoidance is equivalent to the annual emissions of 31.5 million cars. Since 2003, IDC estimates that VMware solutions have negated the deployment of 123 million physical servers, saving 2.2 trillion kWh and avoiding 1.1 billion metric tons of CO2. While this is indeed an impressive accomplishment, we have more to do if we are to fully decarbonize digital infrastructure of the future.

As the world experiences the accelerating impacts of climate change, the relevance of IT efficiency and optimization is resonating more than ever. Companies around the globe and across industries are committing to strong carbon- and energy-reduction efforts and renewable energy goals. More than 860 companies to date, including VMware, have committed to science-based targets for reducing absolute carbon emissions in internal operations and supply chains. As companies seek solutions to help achieve these aggressive targets, VMware’s solutions can help connect the dots between corporate IT operations and sustainability goals – to the benefit of their business goals and the planet.

Inspiring our Community to Take Action

Every Bit Counts is built on the principle that collective impact is driven by individual actions.  No matter how big or small, actions and personal choices including reuse over disposal, biking over driving, enabling a productive and distributed workforce to developing sustainability solutions for customers.  This Earth Day, we’re encouraging our employees around the world to consider ways each of us can do our bit to make a difference, and drive change.

For each employee who commits to taking action, we will plant a tree on their behalf. As a technologist myself, I am in awe of forests. As one of the planet’s most impressive innovations, carbon-absorbing trees help clean our air, filter our water, and provide habitat to more than 80% of the world’s biodiversity.

In OCTO, we have made it a priority to define VMware’s path to net-zero and embed sustainability and resilience into our business. In a world that is more interconnected and interdependent than ever, I hope this Earth Day can be a reminder that every effort we make, every bit we contribute, does indeed count.  And as technologists, inspire us to think about the role we can play in getting to a better future for all, faster.

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