Cloud Computing can cut Carbon Emissions
The worldwide cloud services market is expected to grow by 17.3% in 2019 to a total of $206.2 billion, up from $175.8 billion in 2018. Businesses are increasingly substituting cloud technologies for internal resources to benefit from pay-as-you-go pricing models, the ability to scale up and down flexibly, and access cloud applications without buying and managing on-premise infrastructure.
Cloud technologies are necessary for businesses that want to adopt business intelligence technologies and other tech-extensive solutions, since getting these equipment and software deployed on-premise can be a risky commitment for companies who have changing needs and requirements.
As technology continues to become more advanced, an urgent need for data centres arise constantly. While technology proliferation is positive, figuring out how to make it less intrusive on the environment is always a challenge.
Data centers in the US alone are expected to consume the power of 73 billion kWh in 2020. Data centre efficiency and sustainability thus turn out to be a major environmental concern.
The Impact of Data Centers on Environment
We all realize that data centres are key and core to our technological needs. But, their environmental impact might be their disadvantage. An article in the New York Times highlights that a single data centre can consume more power than a medium-sized town. And that it is staggering for most people to perceive the damage that data centres could be doing to the environment.
In essence, data centres are computers stacked together, that work continuously, and get heated as a result. Now, this brings the demand for cooling systems into the picture. The mechanisms to cool down the copious amounts of computers use energy and burns fossil fuels, which adds to the carbon emissions.
An article on LinkedIn points out that 17 percent of the total carbon footprint is caused by data centres. The electricity needed to run these centres is nearly 30 billion watts. Additionally, these servers waste 90 per cent of the energy because they run on their full capacity 24/7.
How Cloud Computing Addresses Energy Inefficiencies
Cloud infrastructure aims to approach two critical elements of green IT- energy efficiency and resource efficiency. Cloud computing is a greener resource considering the following reasons:
– Resource virtualization – Virtualization is the foundational technology that enables cloud solutions. It is the technology that allows a single physical server to run multiple OS copies simultaneously. Through this consolidation, cloud computing reduces the physical server footprint, allowing green benefits. Considering the resource efficiency perspective, cloud technologies allow less equipment to run workloads, proactively reducing the need for data centres and minimizing the e-waste footprint. As fewer pieces of equipment need to be powered, we consume less electricity.
– Automation software drives efficiencies – The presence of virtualization is not enough to make cloud computing an environmentally viable solution. To rapidly scale, provision, and move workloads, cloud-based infrastructure relies on automation solutions. By following the operational and architectural standards, automation can enable IT professionals to best use their cloud ecosystem by pushing the boundaries of utilization ratios and consolidation. Higher ratios mean a lower need for physical infrastructure which helps slash down the need for electricity, fuel, and resources.
– Pay-per-use encourages judicious utilization – The pay-as-you-go model of pricing in cloud services urges users to utilize only what they need and nothing more. Combine this with self-service and the life-cycle management improves as users can control how much resources they need and switch on and off as they go. The idea of pay-per-use allures organizations since it is their way of reducing costs while benefiting the environment from proper resource utilization.
– Multi-tenancy helps use common cloud infrastructure – Multi-tenancy allows different organizations over a public cloud or business units within a private cloud to access capabilities on a common cloud infrastructure. The demand patterns across organizations or business units can be combined to flatten out in consequence. When automation enters the picture, these ratios between the peak and average loads can reduce, minimizing the need for additional infrastructure and resources.
– Synchronization of applications – Synchronization capabilities allow business users to sync data from various cloud-based software solutions. Again, with the help of automation, this can be checked in one central hub and synchronized across web apps concurrently, thus reducing the need to be online while the function happens.
– Green energy – Several cloud computing providers have replaced fuel with green energy to power up their servers. Numerous cloud hosting providers now leverage hydro, wind, or solar energy as a component in their energy requirements. In the UK and some countries in Europe, cloud hosting companies are already leveraging green energy solutions.
Therefore, migrating workloads to cloud resources or developing new ones in a cloud-native environment can be an organization’s way of going green and achieving sustainability. Although one might argue that energy consumption is high in cloud-based infrastructures too, the bottom line is that the cloud is considered more energy and carbon efficient than running data centres.
Data centres run the planet’s digital services, but their construction alone costs a whopping $20 billion annually on a global scale. Bring this into your perspective- Google estimates that a typical search on its engine requires as much energy as illuminating a 60-watt bulb for 17 seconds and omits 0.2 grams of CO2, every single time. This might not sound a lot unless you multiply that by the number of searches made on Google every year.
By all means, i.e., cost, energy, and resources, cloud emerges as a clear driver of green initiatives in the tech space. As more and more companies and customers demand energy efficiency, this could be your way of going green.
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