Microsoft picks Aussie sustainability software

Australian company CarbonSystems has been chosen by Microsoft to keep track of Microsoft's energy usage around the world.
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor

Australian company CarbonSystems has been chosen by Microsoft to keep track of Microsoft's energy usage around the world.

The three-year deal, which sees CarbonSystems' cloud-based Environmental Sustainability Platform rolled out at 600 Microsoft facilities in 110 countries, is "substantial", according to CarbonSystems CEO David Solsky. Microsoft voluntarily reports its carbon emissions and its energy and water usage on a global basis through the Carbon Disclosure Project.

The CarbonSystems product takes data from multiple sources within Microsoft and third-party suppliers, enabling the automation of the collection of energy, water and environmental data to enter into the CDP reports, and to help Microsoft to reduce its energy footprint.

Prior to CarbonSystems, Microsoft was using spreadsheets to track its usage, Solsky said, which was not only laborious, but also meant that data collection didn't occur in real time, causing Microsoft to struggle with energy management.

"It doesn't help in 30 days' time to know that you've had a spike [in energy]," Solsky said.

Microsoft ran a tender process to select a vendor for an energy-management product, looking at 30 potential vendors, but finally selected CarbonSystems.

Solsky believes that Australia's carbon stance is part of the reason that it had received the deal. The government introduced mandatory carbon reporting for selected companies in 2008.

"Australia has been probably one of the most active markets in the world for this kind of technology," he said.

CarbonSystems has been implemented in major companies, like banks and property groups, to enable this, he said. He added that while US-based competitors are only dealing with voluntary reporting, CarbonSystems is involved in the real thing.

"We believe their software, built on Microsoft platforms, will not only help us improve our reporting process, but also will help us uncover opportunities to manage our resources more efficiently," Rob Bernard, Microsoft's chief environmental strategist said in a statement.

Microsoft will provide CarbonSystems with better impetus in global markets, according to Solsky. However, the deal isn't just about signing Microsoft up, but also about creating a partnership with the vendor, where CarbonSystems will develop features to support Microsoft that could then be rolled out to other customers. Microsoft is a "genuine leader in sustainability" Solsky said, which is "really starting to push the boundaries".

Currently, the cloud-based CarbonSystems product, built on a Microsoft stack, is served out of Melbourne IT datacentres. CarbonSystems will be moving instances into Azure for Microsoft.

"They recognised that with our current infrastructure there were some limitations that we had to get over," Solsky said.

Being able to host the product in Azure would also be of strategic importance for future sales, according to Solsky.

"At the end of the day, clients are clearly moving to cloud," he said. "I think there are a lot of clients that are Microsoft shops."

When asked why Microsoft doesn't just buy the company if it intends to partner on products, Solsky said, "I'd be cheeky and say they can't afford us." He said that CarbonSystems is really just too small to be considered for that, but, if the implementation and the partnership go well, "we might be an acquisition target one day".

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