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Throwing the Technological Kitchen Sink at Carbon Emissions

With an issue as complex as carbon emissions, there’s no one way to solve the problem. Sure, we’re proud of our efforts to tackle emissions from an operational perspective, with tangible initiatives like our Responsible Sourcing program, Journey to Net Zero, and our Million Trees goal. But we haven’t stopped there. With our technology front and center, we’re throwing the proverbial “kitchen sink” at carbon emissions. And it’s paying off. You’ve heard me talk about the stat 1.2 billion metric tons of carbon emissions avoided by VMware solutions (although I’m sure that number is significantly higher now). We’re pushing the limits of how technology can work in service of our natural environment, from AI and Workload Carbon Efficiency to Carbon Transparency. Below are a few examples of the ways we’re making progress.

Artificial Intelligence and Zombies

The term “artificial intelligence” may conjure fantastic sci-fi visions, such as the AI-powered androids in the recent Academy-Award-winning film Ex Machina. While the real-life application of artificial intelligence — automated decision-making based on machine-learning models — may be less dramatic, it is decidedly more powerful. 

For example, at VMware, we have been using data to construct models that identify what we call “zombie processes” (note: I did not say “zombie apocalypse!”) — stranded processes on machines that are not actively being used for computing, but which are consuming unnecessary amounts of energy and increasing datacenter carbon footprints. Understanding the patterns in this data can help us make decisions via artificial intelligence to consolidate the processes onto the minimum number of machines required, saving energy in the process.

This sounds simple in concept but is, of course, much more complicated to operationalize. However, VMware’s virtualization technology may play a key role.  

Virtualization and the “LED Lightbulb of Computing”

Nicola Peill-Moelter, Ph.D., one of VMware’s most distinguished scientists in this field, uses the analogy that VMware’s virtualization technology is like the “LED lightbulb of computing.” In this blog, she explains that there is a direct relationship between the amount of virtualization technology a company employs and the sustainability of its datacenter operations. In this case, when we talk about sustainability, we mean consuming less infrastructure and energy — and as a result — less carbon.

Whereas other industries’ energy consumption has continued to increase over the last decade, VMware has actually helped flatten the world’s datacenter electricity consumption through server consolidation. We’ve done this by enabling companies to run tens of applications per server (compared to a single app per server). It’s a lot like carpooling: if every parent took just one child to school, there would be orders of magnitude more cars on the road than there would be if they all carpooled. Fewer servers = less energy usage = less carbon generated.

Tackling Carbon Together

What’s more, VMware has developed a Zero Carbon Committed Partner Initiative, a consortium of cloud providers who share our commitment to power their datacenters with 100% renewable energy or achieve carbon neutrality on or before 2030. These providers are also VMware Cloud Verified — using the full VMware Cloud infrastructure to provide unparalleled cloud services to their customers.

Coming soon! 2022 ESG Report

In August, we’ll be releasing our annual Environmental, Social, and Governance report to share the progress we’ve made over the previous year in reducing our own carbon footprint, as well as the carbon footprints of our partners, customers, and our customers’ customers. I’m excited to share these numbers.

Please join us in the effort to leverage technology to make the industry more sustainable… and stay tuned for the results of our 2022 ESG report.




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