Sustainability

Environment

Software: the centre of our attention

We're making our core competence work better for planet and people.

Why sustainable software matters

The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector generates over 2% of global greenhouse gas emisssions, and this is rapidly increasing. Visma has hundreds of software products contributing to those emissions – through the technology powering them, their design, and their use.

How can we develop and maintain our products with as few emissions as possible? The answers might surprise you.

Our footprint, firmly planted in metrics

Visma uses data centres from all three of the major cloud providers: Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and Amazon Web Services. Each provider offers a dashboard with metrics on data centre performance, including carbon footprint.

Public cloud, public gain

Modern businesses need data centres to host their applications and data. But demand is increasing every year, and data centres could use 20% of global electricity by 2030. How are we reducing our share?

Migrating to public cloud data centres

One of our top priorities is to migrate our customers to cloud products. Not only is this more scalable and affordable for customers, but it’s also better for sustainability. Why? Our engineering performance is simply better, thanks to the high elasticity, availability and automation capabilities of cloud platforms. Another benefit is that cloud data centres are more power-efficient than their traditional counterparts. The end result is a lower carbon footprint.

84% of our customers now use cloud products, and this is increasing by an average of 5–10% each year.

We’re discontinuing on-premise products at a steady clip and have various internal programs and communities that help Visma companies move their products to public cloud.

Employing hyperscaling

One of the simplest ways we can reduce the environmental impact of hosting is by using Hyperscale Computing (HC). As its name implies, HC is a hyper-efficient method that many data centres use to process data. HC monitors traffic and scales resources up or down, dynamically responding to fluctuating demand. That means we use only the resources we need, when we need them.

At Visma, nearly all of our data centres employ hyperscaling.

Choosing more sustainable regions

We could technically use data centres anywhere in the world, but that’s not sustainable. Instead, we choose regions based on these factors:

  • Data residency – What are the laws in the country where the data centre is located, and will their approach to privacy and human rights meet Visma’s standards?
  • Distance to consumers – How far does the energy need to travel from the data centre to where it’s consumed?
  • Energy efficiency of hardware – How energy efficient is the data centre provider’s hardware? Do they have the latest equipment and do they take steps to minimise power consumption?
  • Availability of renewable energy – What’s the carbon intensity of the local electricity grid? How much CO2 is released for every kilowatt hour (kWh) produced?
Choosing cloud providers and locations is tricky.

The process is informed by many factors, some of which are outside the realm of sustainability, such as cost and technology. Currently, the only viable public cloud providers that meet all of our requirements are Microsoft, Google and Amazon.

While Microsoft and Google have the highest sustainability ambitions, they’re not present in every country we operate in. This means that in some cases, sustainability considerations need to take a backseat.

A resource is only as sustainable as we use it

For a software system to be sustainable, it has to produce maximum value while minimising energy and hardware resources. This requires us to understand and manage the economics of the cloud – not just for cost but also resource optimisation. So we work to identify unused resources, shut them down, and even delete them when needed.

All Visma companies on the public cloud have access to Apptio’s Cloudability tool, which analyses our cloud architecture and recommends improvements for speed, cost, and quality. We also have the Public Cloud Architecture Assessment, an internal evaluation that determines the quality and readiness of any Visma company’s cloud architecture.

Demanding a demand shift

The sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. That makes renewable energy harder to count on than fossil or nuclear energy. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still harness more of it in our pursuit of 24/7 carbon-free energy.

The amount of renewable energy in the electricity grid often varies by time and location. So we’re becoming better at adjusting to that variability through demand shifting – that is, running services where and when that renewable energy is available.

We’re piloting demand shifting in the first half of 2023.

(Not) left to our own devices

Software can’t run without hardware. And the hardware Visma owns – our computers, monitors, phones and other devices – is responsible for nearly 11% of our total emissions. But we need to look closely: not all hardware is created equal when it comes to emissions, and we should replace it as infrequently as possible.

We’re creating a blueprint for hardware decisions, where reducing consumption is our top priority.

This means prolonging our hardware’s lifespan through repair programs and employee education, while ensuring that any new hardware we do purchase has a comparatively low footprint. Our first hardware strategy will be published in 2023.

Our software for environmental sustainability

This is how we help customers track and reduce their impact on the environment.

SmartTrackers

Pragmatic sustainability software that calculates footprints, manages reduction targets and complies with reporting standards.
#1

in CO2 reduction

2,000

customers

Market: Benelux

Loginex

A platform that helps logistics companies get insight into and allocate their CO2 emissions at various levels of detail.
Market: Benelux

Sustion

A product that calculates any company’s carbon footprint using accounting data.
Market: Finland

Sustainability report

Dig into our latest performance

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