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Driving sustainable IT with quality assurance

Why quality assurance should be at the heart of improving sustainable IT practices.

According to a recent survey commissioned by Gartner, 87% of business leaders want to increase their investment in sustainability over the next two years. While there has undoubtedly been a clear shift towards enterprises implementing sustainable objectives, these are often focused on wider business objectives and not necessarily sustainable IT.


Enterprise IT has a significant impact on the world’s carbon footprint as a whole, as stated by a recent Sustainable IT report from Capgemini, the consulting, engineering, technology and digital transformation services organisation. According to the research, 89% of organisations recycle less than 10% of their IT hardware, and sustainable IT is not viewed as a priority. This presents something of a challenge.


The report also reveals that half of enterprises have a business-wide strategy for sustainability, but only 18% have aligned this with a sustainable IT strategy that includes clearly defined goals and timeframes. Furthermore, it appears that companies are placing pressure on the technology industry to drive meaningful change. Capgemini reports that more than half (52%) of enterprises believe technology firms should include a focus on sustainable IT when developing their products and services.


Effecting change


The positive news is that there are steps businesses can take to help drive sustainable IT practices across their organisation, with quality assurance (QA) as one way of doing this.


Consider sustainability from the perspective of both energy usage and physical hardware. With the former, businesses can effect change by looking more closely at how they create applications, and then test these applications in an efficient way.


In terms of efficiency, this means testing in the most appropriate way to save energy. For example, why have a test running for two hours that’s going through lots of loops and iterations when you could have it running for 30 minutes? Straightaway, that’s a 75% reduction in energy usage. If businesses apply that sort of thinking in a continuous and agile way, they will save energy over the long run.


Eliminate inefficient code


QA can play a key role in helping businesses to eliminate inefficient code. For example, you may have a dataset that has lots of loops and is repetitive, or a complex SQL [structured query language] query whereby you’re looking for a very specific subset that may be going across multiple tables.


Creating more efficient streamlining of that code reduces lines or loops and is far more efficient than running that query over a database that has one million lines of data in it. Inefficient queries can take several minutes to run if there is a resource-intensive piece of code that uses a lot of high CPU (central processing unit).


De-risk your business transformations


The whole point of testing is to make sure there are fewer product defects in production. The common thought process has been that by having fewer defects in production, you’re cutting costs, because it is more expensive to fix something post-production and you’re reducing risks of associated damages caused to brand reputation. Additionally, from a sustainable IT perspective, you’ll use much less energy by identifying issues much earlier in the process.


Recycle and reuse


Making tests more efficient and only running critical ones is also a key component of a thorough QA programme. Clearly, the more tests you run, the more energy you’re using and the more devices are needed. Instead of running 1,000 tests every time updates are required, businesses need to adopt a modular approach to make tests more efficient, reducing them to 100 or 500.


Cut costs through resource efficiency


As more and more businesses move applications to the cloud, they want to know they’re ready before they go into production, which creates a need for performance testing. By looking at the performance and the CPU utilisation, companies can see how energy intensive or resource intensive their applications may be and look for ways to reduce consumption if necessary. Performance testing can often help find these bottlenecks and eliminate inefficiencies, which results in much less overall wastage.


Get rid of bad data


Too often, organisations are unaware they are holding onto terabytes of bad data. Not only does this have an impact on the performance of the application, it also adds to the time taken to generate business-critical reports. Both of these impacts will directly increase the amount of energy used to run apps. Implementing a data integrity practice to remove junk will lead to more accurate results from reports and reduce your overall carbon footprint.


Support device testing in the cloud


Moving applications to the cloud has also driven increased support for device testing in the cloud, resulting in much less wastage of devices. Consider, for example, a business that previously needed to do lots of testing across multiple browsers. This meant teams had to set up multiple PCs and laptops to carry this out.


Now, this investment in physical devices is being negated with many companies providing devices in the cloud to which businesses can connect on demand to perform their testing.


Summary


In conclusion, it is clear that an increased focus on QA can play a significant role in driving sustainable IT practices across enterprises. With data centres around the world accounting for nearly 1% of global electricity demand, and 2% of the entire electricity usage in the US, according to the International Energy Agency, now is the time for businesses to act.


Article originated in Quality.org


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