Towards sustainability: does being green need to cost the earth? - Bistech

How adopting the cloud is impacting enterprise sustainability.

With climate change approaching crisis point, sustainability has become an existential challenge — one that governments, businesses and individuals around the world are working together to mitigate. Yet as businesses define and refine their sustainability strategies, it’s not enough to simply aim to be ‘greener’ — the climate crisis calls for credible, robust and measurable action.

There’s now increasing pressure on companies to show their green credentials — as well as those of their supply chain. And as a substantial proportion of a corporation’s carbon footprint may come from its IT infrastructure, technology has an important role to play. Hyperscale providers know this, which is why there’s been increased messaging around the subject to tempt IT decision-makers to move their workloads from legacy datacentres and on-premise environments to the cloud.

Sustainability in the cloud

For some years now, cloud infrastructures have been considered an ‘eco-friendlier’ alternative to their on-premise counterparts. While the precise figures vary, reports suggest that cloud datacentres can be around 80% more energy efficient, and companies that shift their on-premise applications to the renewably powered public cloud can cut their carbon footprint even more.

Along with the substantial energy savings, the cloud shared services model enables organisations to increase computing efficiency and access greater compute power. This can support key sustainability objectives including:

  • Improving business efficiency through machine learning and process automation
  • Reducing travel by adopting hybrid working and the use of virtual collaboration / meetings
  • Eliminating real-world waste using sophisticated visualisation, simulation and modelling

Cloud providers themselves are investing heavily in more sustainable practices to meet the growing business appetite for a net-zero service. For example, hyperscale players such as Microsoft, GCP and AWS are reducing their datacentre footprint by moving them closer to renewable energy sources, and trialling more creative solutions such as underwater cooling. As we look ahead, continued human ingenuity and innovation will be crucial to mitigating the climate crisis.

Crunching the numbers

It goes without saying that everyone would like to do their part in saving our environment — and most IT leaders appreciate the technical benefits of leveraging a cloud provider — but can this be done without impacting the bottom line? Or, even better, can it improve it?

The main commercial benefit of cloud computing is its consumption model — you pay for as much (or as little) as your system use requires and can scale as needed, reducing overall operating costs. And by decreasing your on-premise infrastructure, time that your IT team would traditionally spend on tasks such as maintaining servers and managing storage can be freed up, allowing them to focus on delivering more strategic projects. Reducing on-premise equipment also has the added benefit of saving energy costs — by its very nature, cloud computing requires less electricity to operate.

Traditionally, cloud migration projects have been triggered by a new requirement (eg, delivering a new service) or when it’s time to look at new capital expenditure (eg, replacing service infrastructure). But with the increased cost of running traditional infrastructure combined with higher energy prices and the ongoing challenge of acquiring hardware, a cloud adoption project is now more compelling than ever.

Our sustainable future

Ultimately, enterprises don’t have the expertise or scale to impact the sustainability of the datacentre industry in the same way hyperscale providers do. And as Microsoft, GCP and AWS continue to see an increase in customer demand for sustainable practices, the transition to sustainable datacentre technology will continue to accelerate.

Wherever you are in your sustainability journey, small steps can make a big difference. This is not a challenge that can be tackled alone — it’s only through a global collaborative effort that encourages innovation that we will protect our future. To discuss your cloud migration strategy, call our expert team today on 03330 11 22 55.