Sustainability can be an important driver for cloud innovation

I have long argued in support of the role cloud computing can play in reducing power consumption related to compute and storage. The rest of the world is finally coming. Today, most companies want to get close to a net zero carbon impact.

The reasons go beyond pure altruism and public relations. As reported by Forbes, the effects of climate change will cost businesses up to $1.6 trillion per year by 2025. This is a clear business problem that needs to be addressed.

In addition, emerging regulations focus on the carbon footprint of companies and governments. Compliance assessments will check the efficiency of the business, especially the optimization of computer resources. Depending on which countries your company operates from, the downside of this carbon regulation trend could be millions of dollars in fines and/or negative publicity.

Problem, meet solution. Cloud computing can allow for a better distribution of resources through the simple multi-tenant trick that reduces the overall carbon footprint. Sustainability started as a natural and very substantial side effect of the shift from onsite data centers to cloud computing. So we have the current drive for more cloud innovation from providers, especially in the area of ​​sustainability.

A few issues feed this current drive:

First, cloud providers themselves are getting better at using renewable energy, providing more carbon-efficient platforms for applications and data. Enterprises can use some solar and wind power, but they won’t get to the scale of hyperscalers. Therefore, it is more carbon efficient to outsource processing to public cloud providers than it is for a company to set up its own wind or solar farms.

Second, the cloud model itself is inherently efficient. The cloud is about sharing resources. Businesses routinely use only a portion of the servers they have in their private data centers, with some onsite servers using only 10% on average. This is largely because they have to purchase compute and storage resources well before they are needed, hence their low usage.

Public cloud providers are much better at resource utilization because they can manage the demand of thousands of tenants among available resources using multitenancy. A single set of virtual cloud servers can serve workloads that would normally require 100 times more private servers, which in turn would draw 100 times more power from the grid.

As we approach 2022, writing is on the wall about the role cloud computing will play in providing enterprises with more sustainable computing. In addition to the multi-tenancy savings, consider the added value of enhanced business agility and the ability to scale on demand. Public clouds go from green to very green.

Future innovations from cloud providers will improve energy efficiency, including the use of renewable energy sources, custom CPUs and other hardware that is better optimized than the equipment currently in the data centers.

The question is no more “Should sustainability be a driver for cloud innovation?” Now and in the future, sustainability will become a bigger factor in the overall ROI of a cloud project. Upcoming innovations from providers and the ongoing move to the cloud point in the right direction for the health of the planet. The urge for sustainability is obvious.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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