Saving Grace: Sustaining digital life despite a supply chain crisis

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The supply chain crisis shows no sign of letting up, with an unprecedented pandemic putting wind in its sails and geopolitical tensions further exacerbating weaknesses. In fact, according to Deloitte’s 2022 technology industry outlook, it’s expected that supply chain will remain in full swing until 2023. Despite the tech sector approaching imminent crisis-level challenges, tech businesses rarely talk about it with the transparency needed to tackle the issue head on..

But with every crisis comes opportunity, and as we pivot we must do so together – and for the greater good. We are being gifted the chance to truly collaborate across the sector, strengthening the industry as a whole as well as an organisation. A major part of the solution is seizing the moment to implement more sustainable IT cycles – it’s an opportunity that can’t be missed. But first, we have to talk about it…

Our future depends on tech

Our growing reliance on tech was accelerated by covid and the prospect of new emerging technologies. As we build smarter businesses, cities and transport that respond to the evolving digital needs of citizens, in a period of volatility, the demand for tech resources is going through the roof. That trend isn’t going to change direction. As the entrepreneur and futurologist, Peter Diamandis, said recently, in the next decade we’ll experience more progress than in the past 100 years combined, as technology reshapes health and materials science, energy and various other industries and domains. While this advancement should make us feel optimistic, it does raise concerns. There is a lot riding on the industry’s ability to deliver.

At the start of 2021, many supply networks were struggling, and today we know that these supply chains continue to be exacerbated by a range of issues, from geopolitical crises, to resources and bottlenecks. Fundamentally, supply chains cannot keep up with backlogs, hindering the pace of digital transformation and sending many tech businesses into crisis mode. Across the board, we’re seeing tech companies furiously pivoting and questioning how they can prepare for the next wave of unknowns.

The crux of tech’s supply chain crisis

As tech companies look at how they can address current and future disruption, more firms are being forced to shift their approach and pay increased attention to their data centre maintenance and IT cycles. As a result, Park Place Technologies has witnessed an unprecedented increase in enquires from its Curvature business, as customers look to realise the benefits of pre-owned hardware. Meanwhile, as the supply of even pre-owned parts shortens, more customers are looking to managed services and automation to sustain their operations.

As supply chain disruption intensifies, we are seeing customers cancelling new orders and switching to pre-owned hardware. Others have moved parts of their services to the public cloud and are using discovery and migration services while some organisations are extending hardware lifecycles with the adoption of post-warranty and End of Service Life support services. However, automating maintenance and management of hardware services is what we’ve seen skyrocket during this period.

Customers’ shifting needs has presented us with a rare opportunity here. The twin demand for pre-owned parts and extensions to the lifecycle of existing hardware infrastructure has inadvertently pushed us towards more sustainable IT cycles – which is certainly a welcome step. It’s no secret that there are concerns over data centres energy use and associated impacts on climate change. The industry is often characterised as energy hungry due to globally consuming an estimate of between 200 terawatt hours (TWh) and 500 TWh of electrical energy every year. However, reducing data centres’ energy demand during operations is only one part of the puzzle when it comes to addressing the industry’s carbon footprint.

We must look at all stages of the data centre life cycle including raw material extraction, equipment manufacturing, data centre construction, end of life of equipment and data centre buildings. As technology firms all face the supply chain crisis together and share the same goal of creating a more sustainable industry, we are provided with another opportunity – this time to collaborate with one another and share knowledge while we graft through the crisis. 

Doing things differently

To do this, we must move away from traditional IT cycle approaches. Instead of offering customers the latest IT systems, providers should advise on what is truly needed and what the most sustainable options are. However, creating this change in a volatile era is not easy, as customers will undoubtedly default to what they have known to always work. That’s why greater openness among the tech community and collaboration is needed now more than ever before. By working as a collective, we can help influence the adoption of more sustainable IT operations for all.

As we look ahead, it’s clear that automation is the balm to customers’ IT woes, but there is also a risk that some might consider completely ditching their on-prem operations as a knee jerk reaction to the supply chain crisis and switch to the public cloud – which would be unwise. Hybrid cloud is here to stay and is certainly vital when it comes to handling a variety of business data. However, keeping the most sensitive data under lock and key on-prem is still best practice and this doesn’t need to be compromised.

With the deluge of data increasing pressure on business’ IT infrastructure and edge technologies amplifying data-growth, while diversifying the hybrid cloud, these issues will only become more complex. So, rather than skirting around them, let’s start the conversation now – in an open forum so we can work together to sustain digital life, despite the supply chain crisis.