It’s likely 2021 will be remembered as the year that climate change could no longer be ignored. We’re witnessing record-breaking heat, drought and flooding across the globe. Sustainability isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ for business, it has become an imperative. This blog takes a look at the benefits of moving to the Cloud and what you need to consider when making your decision.

The headquarters of Runibex Technology are in Turkey and the summer of 2021 has not been an easy time for that part of the world. It’s incredibly sobering when the wildfires in the South of your country as so massive they can be seen from space(See figure 1). And, at the same time, there’s unprecedented flooding in the North.

Figure 1: Satellite photo of wildfires burning in Antalya and Marmaris, Turkey. (Source: NASA)

It’s clear something must be done and, perhaps for the first time, there’s real commitment towards sustainability. A recent Accenture survey found 44% of CEOs expect their organisations to be net-zero within the next 10 years.

When it comes to Cloud, we are all faced with a challenge. Deploying a public Cloud infrastructure is far more environmentally friendly but our use of the Cloud is growing rapidly. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the acceleration of Cloud adoption.

The public Cloud providers are investing huge amounts in creating global infrastructure of data centres to meet the demand. But, data centre electricity consumption can’t be allowed to further exacerbate the climate challenge. To give some context on the size of the challenge: current data centre energy usage represents 2% of total global consumption and that’s set to quadruple to 8% in less than a decade.

Cloud providers take sustainability seriously

Between them, the major public Cloud providers – AWS, Google and Microsoft – account for around two-thirds of all Cloud-based digital workloads. As the demand for Cloud capacity grows, each of them are keen to demonstrate how environmentally friendly they’re making their data centre design, build and operations.

AWS have committed to running their infrastructure using 100% renewable energy and have so far invested in 59 wind and solar projects, 68 on-site solar systems and 127 global renewable energy projects. Commited to pure renewable energy by 2025, Microsoft has also developed Sustainability Calculator to help businesses analyse the carbon emissions of the Cloud services they use. Finally, Google says it has only been using renewable energy since 2017 and it’s committed to operating completely on clean energy by 2030.

The business benefits of adopting a sustainable Cloud strategy

There’s clear evidence companies that take sustainability seriously reap a great range of business and financial benefits. Companies can unlock greater financial, societal and environmental benefits through cloud-based circular operations and sustainable products and services.

Accenture points out that, between 2013-2019, companies with consistently high environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance enjoyed almost five times higher operating margins and lower volatility than low ESG performers over the same period. The analysts say that migration to public Cloud can bring up to 40% in total cost of ownership (TCO) savings.

Perhaps the biggest business argument for sustainability is that it used to be what your customers would like and that’s now become what they demand. According to Forbes,  2020 marked the turning point quoting a survey that showed over 68% of consumers seek out sustainable products and services. At 2021 survey from Deloitte echoes this finding that one in three customers had abandoned brands because of ethical or sustainability-related concerns.

Some questions you need to ask yourself about Cloud sustainability

While it’s important that cloud providers take responsibility for the infrastructure and services they offer, the same is also true for their customers. Businesses have a responsibility to understand the options available to them and begin to build sustainability into how they design and deploy their applications and workloads in the Cloud.

When considering sustainable usage of the public Cloud, there are a number of questions you’ll need to take time to answer. These include:

  • Are you processing data and workloads in the most efficient manner?
  • Are you using the optimal server or data centre for your workload?
  • Are your processing workloads in the most appropriate location or region?
  • Have you optimized application performance for the Cloud?
  • Does all your data need to be online or can some be move to low energy, offline archiving?
  • How effective are your data retirement and deletion processes?
  • How long do your users spend searching for and accessing data?
  • How much system redundancy do you need to ensure business continuity?

Work with an experienced Cloud service provider

The Accenture survey highlights the benefits of Cloud migration. It states that the average on-premise to Cloud migration can drive 65% energy reduction and carbon emission reduction of 84%. Further, companies can stretch carbon emission reductions to 98% by configuring and optimising applications for the Cloud.

To achieve these benefits, it’s better to work with a Cloud service provider with experience of building sustainability into Cloud migration and operation. A partner that can work with you to address all the issues to create a Cloud environment that delivers on your business, operational and sustainability goals. Runibex has been carbon neutral for a number of years and work with clients everyday to ensure they maximise every part of their Cloud environments.

To find out more about sustainability in the Cloud, contact us today.