Environmental Impact and Software Sustainability in IT

Environmental impact:

  • GHG emission: Computer systems consume huge amounts of electricity. This electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels like coal, gas, and oil. They emit greenhouse gases that are hazardous to the environment. GHG consists of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and CFC gases polluting the environment. These chemicals lead to global warming that changes global climate and weather patterns. GHG emissions can be controlled by reducing power consumption by computer systems. Energy conservation methods like turning the monitor off and keeping the machine in standard mode when not in use reduce power consumption, ultimately reducing GHG emissions.
  • Exposure to project chemicals: The manufacturing of IT hardware involves the use of toxic chemicals and compounds causing health-related problems. Chemicals like cadmium, lead, and arsenic affect human body parts like kidneys, liver, and cellular life.
  • e-Waste: Electronic waste is any unwanted or damaged electronic electrical component. It is also called technotrash. The computer manufacturing process produces lots of waste that cannot be easily disposed of. E-waste is thrown out with regular trash, resulting in landfills and polluting the Earth and water. It contains non-biodegradable materials that leak into the ground, causing a hazardous effect on plants and water. Potential disposal and recycling methods can cut down the amount of e-waste.
  • Energy consumption: All information and communication technology devices consume a huge amount of energy. This energy is generated by using natural resources like trees, fossil fuel, water, and coal. The energy consumption by ICT devices should be reduced to conserve natural resources.

Holistic approach:

  • Green design: Design computers and their components in an environmentally friendly way. Designers need to ensure that all materials used are non-hazardous, renewable, and eco-friendly.
  • Green standards and Metric: Green standards and metrics should be adapted for all promotions of IT services. Green standards like LEED and BREEAM enable environmentally friendly building design and management. Green metrics like power usage effectiveness (PUE), carbon, and water are essential to manage the data center ecosystem.
  • Green manufacturing: All computer systems should be produced so that they have minimal negative impact on the environment. It promotes the use of less toxic materials instead of chemicals like lead, cadmium, and arsenic.
  • Green Use: Methods like turning the monitor off, keeping the machine in standby mode when not in use, and reducing spot consumption.
  • Green disposal: Upgrade and reuse old computers to minimize e-waste. Dispose of e-waste properly to avoid harmful effects on the environment.
  • Green IT strategies and policies: Adapt green IT strategies and policies to make the IT environment friendly. Standard bodies like Greenpeace, WWF, and Friends of Earth take steps towards environmental sustainability. Policies like EU code of conduct, LEED Criteria, and TIA-942 provide guidance to organizations and industries to develop green data center designs.

Software sustainability attributes process:

  • Usage-related attributes: These attributes measure up the system at execution time.
    • Usability: It indicates the user-friendliness of the system.
    • Dependability: Indicates the reliability of the system.
    • Accessibility: Ability of the system to provide easy access to users irrespective of the user’s location or device used.
    • Performance: Efficiency of the system in responding to users’ requests.
  • Process relocated attributes:
    • Efficiency: Indicates the required efforts to deliver the product in a specific amount of time.
    • Predictability: Measures the ability to predict the cost and efforts required to develop a software product.
    • Project carbon footprint: Measures the amount of carbon emitted during software development.
  • Development-related attributes:
    • Reusability: Measures the number of reusable components in a system.
    • Portability: Indicates the ability of the system to work on various platforms.
    • Modifiability: Ability to change.
    • Supportability: Indicates the ability to reconfigure for deployment.

Servers based on their functionality:

  • File server: Stores and shares files and folders over a network.
  • Web server: Distributes information over the worldwide web.
  • Database server: Maintains and shares databases.
  • Mail server: Handles and delivers emails over the Internet.
  • Application server: Hosts web applications for users without installing them on users’ machines.
  • Fax server: Shares fax machines over a network to provide access to users, irrespective of their location.
  • Print server: Shares printers over a network to provide access to users, irrespective of their location.
  • Chat server: Provides facilities for chatting to users over the network.