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IBM's Peters calls for responsible computing in #ITWebCloud2021 keynote


Johannesburg, 24 Feb 2021
Marc Peters
Marc Peters

As organisations accelerate to a better normal, they are increasingly seeing rapid digitisation and the adoption of AI as a catalyst to both transformative growth and corporate sustainability.

Addressing the most urgent challenges around the world will require vision, agility, innovation, scale and energy, and will require tech innovators to work together, to help address sustainable development goals in the key areas of infrastructure, data and social impact.

So said Marc Peters, CTO for Energy, Environment & Utilities EMEA at IBM, speaking during his keynote address on ‘Responsible computing - Towards net zero and a more sustainable business with hybrid cloud’, at the ITWeb Cloud, Data Centre & DevOps Summit, happening today as a virtual event.

According to Peters, responsible computing is no longer a self-imposed luxury. It is a imperative that business leaders need to focus on as they build towards hybrid cloud architectures, future-proofed by 'open' technology.

The four ‘Ps’

He says when considering these sustainability and climate initiatives, there are four ‘Ps’ - people, the planet, prosperity and participation, and there’s a very straight correlation between these aspects.

“From a prosperity perspective it is not only about the monetary side of it, but it's also about health, wellness and about being happy. For me personally, the thing that puts all this together is the last P. The fourth P is participation. All this can only work if we are personally engaged in the discussion, interchange, and contribute to all these possibilities that we have in the future.”

Nothing will happen by sitting around waiting for others to do things, says Peters. “It's up to all of us to get involved and to be an integral part of that change in this transformation. And the transformation is not only about sustainability and climate, it's goes way beyond.”

He says we need to start to think differently about technology. Sustainability and climate, he says, are everywhere, but we typically don't see the same importance being given to what is behind our modern technology.

“Without cloud technology, networking, servers, storage, compute data - none of the current work from home situation we find ourselves in would be possible.”

However, these technologies that we depend on to run out business and personal lives, are massive users of power and other environmental resources.

This is why we need to consider, for example, when installing data centres that consume a lot of water in communities where the water situation is challenging, or ones that have dry summer periods need to be looked at. These and other factors need to be considered. A holistic approach is needed, instead of viewing each single aspect in isolation, he adds.

He says there are certain pathways towards responsible computing. “When adding necessary compute and power capability we have to rethink and figure out if we can come up with something that becomes more lean in terms of the overall architecture.”

There are individual roles too. “If you are a developer, what would be your pathway towards responsible computing? Or if you are a chief data officer, what would be your pathway towards a responsible framework for calculating different KPIs? This is the more technology-driven side of it, but there are societal impacts too.”

Data is oxygen, he says in conclusion. "It is not only breathing life into existing energy resources, it is also creating new opportunities. A better use of data has visible, tangible and instant results. It is helping organisations become safer and more efficient and sustainable.”