Cloud computing has provided organizations in the tech industry with many benefits. Whether by helping to create a remote work environment or saving companies substantial costs, the cloud has transformed the ways businesses operate in the modern world. One of the major benefits of cloud computing technology is how it contributes to sustainability. The cloud reduces onsite activity associated with hardware and computing power consumption. Companies on the cloud do not need to maintain physical hardware or worry about disposing or recycling it. Cloud computing also eliminates the need to house and power an infrastructure. Not investing in physical IT equipment and consuming it as a service has environmental benefits because it helps to reduce the carbon footprint of major corporations. Below are some of the ways the cloud has helped contribute to sustainability efforts.
Reduces Energy Consumption
The National Renewable Laboratory confirmed that data centers consume 1.8% of the overall energy consumption in the US each year because onsite servers need to be powered by large amounts of electricity. Data centers require significant upkeep and maintenance and power supplies and cooling fans are also needed, which use a lot of electricity. Not only does the electricity provide power for servers, but it is also used for cooling fans when servers overheat. Research funded by Google and conducted at the Berkeley lab found that cloud computing software can provide up to an 87% decrease in electricity usage. The energy savedx is so great that it could be used to power Los Angeles for an entire year, and can help businesses save 60-85% in energy costs.
Decreases Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Sustainable computing decreases the amount of GHG emitted from data centers. GHG are created in data centers through the life cycling that occurs. This includes: producing materials for the equipment, assembling it, using it within the data center, and then disposing of it once the life cycle is complete. A survey conducted by Accenture revealed that cloud computing has a large environmental impact on carbon emissions. By using green computing approaches, large companies can decrease their carbon footprint from up to 30% and smaller organizations can decrease it to 90%. A CDP report also came to the conclusion that offsite services can reduce annual carbon emissions by 85.7 million metric tons.
Dematerialization refers to the replacement of physical products that create greenhouse gas emissions to a virtual equivalent or replacement. Cloud services reduce energy consumption as well as e-waste, and encourage organizations to conduct their businesses virtually. Examples include video conferencing and sharing documents rather than printing multiple copies to distribute to a large number of employees. Using green computing architectures results in fewer physical machines and hardware, which means having a lower environmental impact. The cloud allows businesses to focus on their daily tasks without having to worry about IT and maintaining infrastructure that they would have onsite. By reducing physical products, such as equipment and hardware, cloud computing reduces the amount of e-waste that occurs when disposing of these products. As mentioned, it also helps organizations to go paperless with cloud storage options, such as Google Drive.
On-prem companies use their own private data centers, which means the equipment is purchased and then set up to deal with high usage spikes, which results in lower utilization rates. When the hardware isn’t being used, energy is still being used which negatively impacts the environment. The cloud decreases the amount of machine use that an organization would require, translating to higher utilization. Since cloud servers do not require physical equipment, they tend to be 2 to 4 times more efficient because of a strong infrastructure.
Data center hardware is used for long amounts of time before an upgrade or a replacement due to high costs. Because of their higher utilization rates, public cloud servers have a smaller lifecycle, which creates a quicker refresh time. It is more cost efficient for public cloud servers to upgrade on a regular basis, because new technology has higher efficiency rates. The more efficient hardware is, the less energy it will use in the long run. In conclusion, cloud computing services operate with higher resource (or energy) efficiency compared to traditional data centers. Sustainable computing is rooted in the concept of sharing services and hence maximizing the effectiveness of resources.
Creates a Shift to Renewable Energy Sources
Cloud data centers have also shifted to renewable sources of energy to power their operations, reducing their carbon footprint. By using solar, hydropower, and wind, companies are attempting to generate more eco-friendly electricity. Cloud providers are currently working towards creating more renewable energy options.
Helps with Remote Working
Employees of an organization no longer need to be in an office, they can work from anywhere, at any time, at any place.The cloud allows employees to share and distribute documentation through its server. Working collaboratively is now possible because of cloud computing as employees can now share company information in a secure and safe environment. Secure data storage and management allows for a smooth work environment for both employees and the business. Workers no longer need to go on long commutes, decreasing the amount of pollution and e-waste that is occurring within the environment.
Rackspace Technology and Green Computing
Rackspace Technology is a cloud computing services pioneer with multi cloud solutions across apps, data, and security. The platform recognizes that it is time for enterprises to prioritize sustainability, and IT leaders must take the lead in driving sustainability efforts.
Rackspace’s Chief Architect, Nirmal Ranganathan, states that “Cloud computing, green computing architectures, design principles, and understanding the data around energy consumption are all critical components to modernize an IT industrial complex skills, infrastructure, and applications. For a more sustainable IT future, the key to sustainability efforts is in the data. Differing perspectives about business pledges versus their actual performance is ongoing and constant. Often, the former is more ambitious than the latter. Data will play a vital role in the drive toward net zero to verify claims made by business partners and to accurately measure a business’ own carbon footprint.”
Rackspace focuses on empowering companies to grow using technology. Through the delivery of cloud services, building efficient serverless architectures and embodying design principles focused on driving long term value creation, Rackspace Technology is contributing to an overall reduction of energy consumption and building Sustainable IT. Migrating and modernizing companies to Cloud environments helps to reduce the number of over-provisioned, energy-hungry data centers across an enterprise.