How Are Cloud Businesses Broaching Sustainability?

As the world looks to COP 26 in Glasgow we are looking at the fundamental shift in operating and management philosophies that enables global organizations. How are all businesses aiming to operate in an environmentally friendly way?

We know the importance of the cloud in driving modern practices that enable agility and improved ways of working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. However what impact does the move to the cloud have on organizations environmental impacts?

Cloud supporting a greener world.

There is a wealth of research highlighting Cloud computing as a greener option compared to the data center. Drivers like greater workload flexibility, better utilization rates mean more energy-efficient infrastructures.

Recent research highlights that migration to the public Cloud can reduce CO2 emissions by 59 million tons per year. Also migration to Cloud can open doors for new opportunities such as clean energy transition and material waste reduction, as a result of using faster analytical platforms.  Therefore the case for moving to the cloud should be considered by any organization assessing their environmental impact.

The impact of the mass move to the cloud

On the other hand, since the start of Covid-19 the carbon emission from tech infrastructure that enables cloud computing had increased dramatically. As the appetite for artificial intelligence and machine learning grows, the need for more computing power is rising too.  

Tech-related emissions are increasing by 6% every year with cloud providers playing a part here. Leading cloud providers are contributing to this with emissions from their centres rising in 2020 as energy demands increased. All companies need to recognize their impact and act quickly.

In response to their emissions AWS have developed strategic plans to tackle this.  They aim to reach “net zero” by 2040, by purchasing more clean energy, investing in electric vehicles, and buying carbon “offsets” or credits to compensate for any remaining emissions from company. Google and Microsoft have similar programs in place to balance their environmental impacts.

What does a greener future look like for the cloud

As the need for more environmentally friendly processes of work arise, many Cloud providers are exploring different options. For example they should be considering the full value chain and the improvements that can be made. This could include assessing cleaner energy sources such as wind and solar and ensuring this is a consideration in who to partner with.

As innovative organizations cloud companies can be at the forefront of green initiatives. This could be in the form of developing services and products that help monitor or calculate environmental impacts.

The world around us is moving at an unprecedented pace. In today’s digital age a complete shift in mindset, culture and operating strategy are needed for a sustainable future. Once having an environmentally friendly business was a competitive advantage, now it is imperative for survival in unstable markets. 

Organizations operating in modern markets need to be adaptable and flexible. Adaptable organizations are continuously innovating . They listen to new voices, adapt in real-time to the new business and employee’s needs, and leverage methodologies to foster richer more innovative solutions. This approach needs to be taken to drive better sustainability.