Cloud computing is poised to revolutionize the business world, especially since the coronavirus pandemic has caused many operations to become virtual. Many organizations have already capitalized on the many benefits of cloud computing, including better security, mobility, and scalability. In addition, cloud options are generally quite affordable when compared to more traditional servers.
One of the benefits that often goes overlooked is the fact that cloud computing helps companies adopt much greener business practices. This is an important fact to keep in mind considering that nearly a third of enterprise applications are expected to be on the cloud by 2022. Here are just a few ways cloud computing helps companies go green:
Reducing Resource Reliance with Shared Data Centers
While large companies often use the majority of the space on a cloud server, smaller organizations tend to use 10 percent or less. However, several companies can use the same data center. This means that fewer data centers and less equipment in general is needed to keep all parties operational. By sharing data centers, less overall power is required both in terms of operation and backup power sources.
Since data centers need to be kept at a certain temperature, they use a significant amount of power, so reducing the overall number needed is very helpful. The other benefit is that cloud servers can be located anywhere. This means that providers can choose strategic locations next to renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar plants.
In addition, cloud technology can allocate resources as they are needed, so machines only receive power when necessary. Traditional data centers do not work this way and all machines receive power around the clock. Many of the larger cloud facilities also have special techniques for optimizing energy use. These techniques include HVAC adjustments, hot and cold aisles, and virtualization. As these techniques become more widespread across data centers, they will ultimately need even less energy to continue operating.
Minimizing Office Carbon Footprints through the Cloud
The green benefits of cloud computing also encompass how offices operate. Research has shown that companies reduce their carbon footprint by nearly 90 percent when they opt for cloud computing.
This is because documents can be viewed and amended online, which eradicates the need for printing. Also, companies are able to maintain balance sheets in the cloud, so the need for paper for the physical office is reduced or even eliminated. Even contracts can now be signed digitally, which means that cloud-based offices need very few, if any, physical supplies.
Each company’s carbon footprint is also reduced through remote work. When companies utilize the cloud to work from home, they are no longer driving to the office, which reduces emissions. Allowing employees to stay home also reduces the need for disposable cups and other conveniences in the office and companies can function with much less physical space, which reduces utility bills.
Emission rates have fallen dramatically since the pandemic since so many people continue to work from home. With dependable cloud computing, it is possible that companies will continue to operate largely remotely, which will continue to drive down pollution.
Spearheading New Green Policies for the Cloud
Many of the top cloud service providers are undertaking initiatives to make their offerings even more ecologically friendly. For example, Amazon Web Services has launched several wind and solar projects and has set a goal to be fueled completely by renewable energy in the coming few years.
By the end of 2020, the company had already created more than 125 renewable energy products to fuel its cloud services. Amazon has also cocreated The Climate Pledge, which set a goal to be free of carbon-based energy by 2040 and challenges other organizations to do the same. However, Amazon is not the only player focused on making its cloud service greener.
Microsoft Azure has been carbon neutral since 2012 and has plans to be carbon negative by 2030. If everything goes according to plan, the company will be completely reliant on renewable energy by 2025. Microsoft relies on renewable energy certificates, which help fund renewable energy sources, to offset its carbon emissions. Currently, Microsoft data centers are about 60 percent powered by renewable electricity. This number should hit 70 percent prior to 2023.
The other major player in making cloud computing a green enterprise is Google. Already, Google has forged agreements with utility companies to supply renewable power to its data centers and has undertaken projects to increase the availability of renewable energy across the globe.
Each year, Google Cloud calculates its carbon usage, the amount of renewable energy it has purchased, and its overall power use. Tracking these numbers has allowed Google to approach carbon neutrality and funnel more renewable energy to its data centers.
Google has also been looking into technology for long-term energy storage that could help make renewable energy more feasible for its centers. All Google data centers already employ machine learning to control temperatures based on weather to maximize energy efficiency.