How Cloud Computing Contributes to Environmental Sustainability
Cloud computing has been an absolute gamechanger for almost every industry. The advantages of the Cloud have led to mass adoption as well as incredible technological innovations. A study done by Cisco states that by the end of 2021, 94% of computational workloads will be done by Cloud datacenters. Enterprises have fully embraced the Cloud as companies small and large migrate towards cloud-based infrastructure. While the allure of lower costs and maintenance is a primary reason for the move, Cloud computing is also helping to contribute towards environmental sustainability.
The Environmentally Positive Effects of the Cloud
Over the last several decades, there has been a significant shift in attention to environmental issues and sustainable alternatives. Countries have taken steps to reduce their carbon footprint, including promising action through the Paris Agreement. However, as climate change has become a more public issue, businesses have stepped up and promised to do their part as well.
While some companies may use the “net-zero carbon” promise as a marketing gimmick, customers are responding positively to the effort. A collaborative research study showed that consumers are willing to pay more for a product from a net-zero company than from a competitor.
Going net zero carbon can be an incredibly difficult task for most companies. However research shows consumers respond positively to all kinds of sustainability efforts. This is just another reason why companies have switched to the Cloud. A report released by Microsoft stated that their Cloud infrastructure is 93% more energy-efficient than similar onsite datacenters. It continues to state that it also boasts an impressive 98% reduction in carbon emissions.
So how does Cloud computing accomplish this incredible feat?
The Energy Efficient Cloud
The cost savings of mass production is a common principle in business and a similar idea applies to the Cloud. Cloud datacenters consolidate and optimize thousands of different services all in one location. Because energy is one of the largest costs for Cloud providers, energy efficiency is a high priority for these companies.
This high concentration of computational power allows companies to optimize energy usage and significantly decrease the amount of energy required to power similar onsite setups. In fact, The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has stated that datacenters account for 1.8% of overall U.S. energy consumption. However, a study funded by Google estimates that Cloud computing can reduce that number by up to 87%.
The Cloud Effect on Dematerialization
“Men were sent to the moon with less computational power than a smartphone.” This common saying is a testament to how far technology has advanced and downsized. The widespread popularity of smartphones and mobile technology has paved the way for the development of apps and services. Prior to Cloud infrastructure, many of these apps, services, and platforms would have required additional hardware to run.
Services like OneDrive, Drobox and Google Drive are the perfect examples of dematerialization. The storage of files and data typically requires the use of an inefficient high-carbon physical product such as a thumb drive or external hard drive. The Cloud has almost entirely removed these types of limitations by providing accessible storage options without the physical requirement.
The Cloud provides the capabilities to offer virtual solutions to problems that have historically been solved through physical means. The popularity of streaming movies and shows over purchasing or renting DVDs is a great visualization of this in action. As Cloud technology continues to improve and offer more capabilities, the development of virtual solutions will encourage further advancements and sustainability efforts.
The Overall Efficiency of a Cloud Data Center
Dedicated and focused effort oftentimes provides the best results. While on-site data centers play an important role in business, they are often restricted by IT budgets, lack of manpower, or unfocused efforts. This is primarily because the data center isn’t the primary focus of the business. It is purely a tool used to sell a product and conduct business.
Cloud providers operate with the advantage that maintaining and managing a data center is their primary focus. This further encourages technical innovations, the implementation of efficiencies, and a more conscious effort to improve. These efficiencies, such as power and bandwidth reduction, have a positive effect on the environment.
Business Sustainability with the Cloud
It goes without saying that environmental sustainability is extremely important to the well-being and future of the planet, which in turn benefits businesses. However, the Cloud also offers several ways to aid business sustainability:
1. Minimal Upfront Investment and Asset-liability
Establishing an onsite datacenter or even a few servers can cost thousands upfront before any kind of benefit is seen. The Cloud offers businesses a virtual solution that removes the upfront cost and liability that comes with owning the hardware. Instead, companies can pay a Cloud provider for the same capabilities without having to worry about managing or maintaining the equipment themselves.
2. No Maintenance or Unexpected Costs
Using a Cloud provider means that there is no hardware to maintain, fix, or replace. The Cloud provider takes care of all of that. This removes any unexpected costs that may typically come up if a piece of equipment fails or needs repair. IT departments can also benefit from the reduced workload since there is no physical hardware to maintain.
3. Greater Accessibility
The Cloud can provide improved accessibility to businesses and their employees. With the increase in remote work over the last few years, the agility of the Cloud has made it a go-to solution. The Cloud can be used for a great many things, including collaborations, shareable databases, and even service platforms. This provides businesses with a flexible solution that can be programmed to meet ever-changing needs.
Environmental Sustainability in the Cloud
The Cloud offers a powerful and flexible solution for companies looking for a more environmental-friendly approach to computing. With the increased efficiencies and reduced dependence on high-carbon devices, the Cloud is an excellent option for companies looking to go green.
Outsource IT can assist companies considering a migration to the Cloud. Our experts can help locate and design cost-effective solutions and guide businesses through the implementation process. For more information contact an Outsource IT account manager today.