Looking at cloud to combat climate change
The sun is shining for the cloud storage sector, with a majority of companies now looking at moving their data storage to the cloud to some degree.
The limitations of on-premise storage, such as an inability to scale-up due to costs, has seen an influx of take-up fo the cloud, to the point that it is almost a universally adopted technology.
As it stands, 94% of companies say that they are using cloud services in 2023, a statistic that is only expected to go up over the coming years. Plus, firms already on it are also expected to increasingly add more of their data onto the cloud over the next few years, as well.
Another advantage of moving to the cloud is the environmental benefits it brings for enterprises. Amazon claims that its cloud computing resources can complete the same task with an 88% reduction in carbon emissions over traditional data centres, and Microsoft says that its cloud is 93% more energy-efficient and 98% more carbon-efficient than on-premises data centres, as well.
But the cloud is not the final answer to the sustainable storage problem – the more data stored remotely, the more energy that is consumed, producing even more carbon emissions, and this is a hindrance to a firm’s environmental goals.
“Organisations can’t simply migrate everything to the cloud and expect immediate sustainability and better performance,” says Emma Gooderham, commercial director of Cloud Gateway. “They must assess and plan their migration carefully, through cloud readiness assessments and businesses cases – with clear, measurable targets.”
If sustainability is the goal, then organisations need to be able to benchmark their current emissions against the expected footprint of a new cloud environment, Gooderman believes: “Business requirements must define your sustainable solutions, not the other way round.”
From the financial sector, Kalliopo Chioti chief marketing and ESG Officer at banking software provider, Temenos, says that banks are feeling an increasing amount of pressure to reach ESG targets: “To respond to these increasing pressures, banks must first look at their direct operations. Legacy IT infrastructure is responsible for a large proportion of a bank’s carbon emissions.”
“Migrating infrastructure to public cloud hyperscalers means not only less hardware and floor space, but also less electricity to run it all – offering a leaner and greener alternative,” she iterates.
“Public cloud centres are increasingly built with energy efficiency as a priority, be it lighting, cooling, computer consumption or equipment degeneration. And the more banks lean on cloud infrastructure and the software as a service (SaaS) platforms that run on it, the more the sector generates green economies of scale.”
Data centre and cloud network firm Telehouse Europe keeps energy consumption down with the help of digital twins, which provide a complete replica of its individual data centre.
With its digital twin partner EkkoSoft, Telehouse Europe has a complete visualisation of exactly where its data centre needs cooling down through using thermal sensors.
As the sensors flags a section of the data centre is outside the normal temperature range, the team can then adjust cooling settings such as fan speed adjustments or cooling set points in the specific areas – rather than struggling with an awkward balancing act of the data centre using too much energy by overheating, and then using another increased amount of energy cooling.
Since it deployed the software in its one data centre, it has identified a potential 10% in cooling load saving, allowing Telehouse to achieve an expected 461 tonnes reduction in CO2 emissions.
In a similar fashion of using small tweaks in order to avoid over-consumption, Cloud Gateway allows its customers to stay sustainable by offering a flexible storage approach so that customers only use the amount of storage they truly need.
“Sustainability is best achieved through a series of small, incremental changes. This allows organisations to carefully consider all factors – such as electricity usage, shadow IT and emissions – before finding individual solutions to those specific challenges, rather than trying to fix everything at once,” explains Gooderham.
“The concept of a sustainable cloud is not necessarily a new thing but it has been gaining momentum as businesses embrace their environmental responsibilities,” iterates Gooderham. “It is important, however, that sustainability practices do not simply become a box ticking exercise or greenwashing.”
“Businesses will have their own priorities, and we should understand that sustainability will not be at the top of the list for some organisations. We should be honest about this, encourage good practice where we can, and make it as easy as possible for businesses to make green technology choices – this includes the cloud.”
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